Sports Council board member wins challenge over investigation
rish Sports Council board member John Byrne has won his High Court action against the council’s decision to investigate him on allegations of wrongdoing
Mr Justice Michael Peart said yesterday that the ISC’s decision to appoint an investigator to examine complaints made against Mr Byrne by the Football Association of Ireland regarding funding matters, had to be quashed.
Mr Justice Peart, in a reserved judgment, said the board did not have the power to investigate one of its own members.
Mr Byrne was appointed to the council, the body that directs the development of sport in Ireland, by the minister for sport in 2009. The ISC’s responsibilities include sports funding, high performance and anti-doping.
He is the chief executive officer of the Community Games; a sports and public affairs consultant; a board member of the Health and Safety Authority and a former director of special projects with the FAI.
The High Court had heard that the investigation was opened earlier this year after the ISC received a letter from the football association concerning a number of emails allegedly from Mr Byrne regarding funding matters.
The FAI claimed that the content of what it said were “extremely serious” emails, amounted to a grave and improper interference by Mr Byrne in the funding process.
Arising out of the complaint on April 16th last the ISC appointed Paul Appleby, a former director of corporate enforcement, to conduct an investigation into the claims, which if proved, would breach the ISC’s code of conduct.
Mr Byrne, who denies any allegations of wrongdoing, claimed the investigation was unjust, lacked fair procedures and alleged that the ISC board lacked the jurisdiction to conduct an investigation. He had asked the court to quash the sports council’s decision to appoint Mr Appleby as the independent investigator into the allegations against him.
Mr Byrne had stated he also feared the claims against him were being prejudged and that he would be forced to resign from the board. This he claimed could seriously damage his reputation and standing. The ISC had opposed Mr Byrne’s action arguing that it was entitled to conduct an investigation, under its code of conduct.