Solicitor says FitzPatrick may have to apply for legal aid for upcoming trial

Former Anglo chairman faces 12 counts of failing to disclose to auditors the true value of loans worth at least €139 million

 Former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank Seán FitzPatrick   leaving the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court  in April after being been acquitted on all charges against him. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank Seán FitzPatrick leaving the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in April after being been acquitted on all charges against him. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 01:01

Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick may apply for free legal aid for his upcoming trial on charges of failing to disclose loans from another bank, a court has heard. Mr FitzPatrick (65), Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, is charged under section 197 of the Companies Act 1990.

He faces 12 counts of failing to disclose to auditors Ernst & Young the true value of loans worth at least €139 million given to him or people connected to him by Irish Nationwide Building Society from 2002 to 2007, while he was an officer of the bank.

Mr FitzPatrick’s solicitor, Michael Staines, told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday that his client would not be able to fund his upcoming case unless he was awarded his costs from a previous trial, in which he was acquitted on all charges. Last June, Judge Martin Nolan rejected an application for costs for that trial and yesterday Mr Staines told Judge Mary Ellen Ring that leave had been granted for a judicial review of this decision.

Mr Staines said the judicial review could take up to a year and in the meantime, his client could not afford to take on barristers. “Mr FitzPatrick will not be able to fund his case unless he gets an order for costs in the other matter. My client may have to reluctantly apply for legal aid.”

He said the defence was seeking clarification from the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding the number of barristers she intended to use in the case and what she intended to pay them. Under the general principle of parity, defence counsel are paid the same as prosecution counsel.

Una Ní Raifeartaigh SC, prosecuting, had previously asked that the case be listed for mention to seek guidance from the defence regarding issues around disclosure from a third party.

Mr Staines said that the reason the defence had not responded to the State’s requests for guidance was that they had no counsel because of the issues around costs and legal aid. He said he could not approach counsel until the State clarified its own position around counsel.

The solicitor said that he may seek to have the trial adjourned if these issues could not be resolved. The trial is set for February 2nd next, with a pre-trial hearing scheduled for December 12th.