O’Brien’s record should disbar him from having a disproportionate hold on media
We must be constantly reminded of the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal
The tribunal found that a payment of €172,000 (£147,000) was made by Denis O’Brien to Michel Lowry through two intermediaries during a period when Michael Lowry held public office (paragraph 16.62).
It found that Michael Lowry had purchased a property in Mansfield, England, largely with funds from an account of Denis O’Brien in Crédit Suisse First Boston in London (16.78)
It found that Michael Lowry had bought a property in Cheadle, England, largely funded from that same London account of Denis O’Brien (16.89).
It found that Michael Lowry had secured a loan from Woodchester bank of £420,000 on the basis of an understanding that Denis O’Brien was backing the loan (16.89).
It found that the files in the office of a London solicitor, Christopher Vaughan, were falsified “to obscure from the Tribunal a clear connection between Mr Denis O’Brien and Mr Michael Lowry and the payments by the former to the latter” (16.97).
There is a further extraordinary finding. It reads: “The Tribunal has further concluded that the payment of Stg£150,000 to Mr Kevin Phelan by Mr Denis O’Brien, through Westferry [a company owned by Denis O’Brien] was primarily intended to ensure that Mr Kevin Phelan would not further undermine the false version of Mr Lowry’s involvement in the UK properties already tendered in evidence to the Tribunal in 2001 and the false explanation already presented, with the complicity of Mr Kevin Phelan, for the existence and provision to the Tribunal of the falsified ‘short form’ correspondence [this relates to the solici- tor’s files which were falsified]” (16.126).
The report also finds that Michael Lowry went to considerable effort to assist Denis O’Brien in securing the mobile phone licence, in disclosing to him confidential information concerning the criteria that would apply to evaluating applications for the licence and in advising him to bring Dermot Desmond on board to secure the financial status of Denis O’Brien’s company.
This latter advice resulted in Denis O’Brien’s company improperly contacting the evaluating committee with additional information after the deadline of this had expired.
What the tribunal reveals is sordid. While Denis O’Brien has consistently rejected the findings, the weight of evidence in the report is persuasive.
Denis O’Brien’s media power demands it be confronted persistently by the evidence in the Moriarty tribunal report, threats to sue journalists personally notwithstanding.