Law Society refused O'Brien advert

Sat, Oct 31, 2009, 00:00

THE LAW Society Gazette refused to accept an advertisement from businessman Denis O’Brien concerning the Moriarty tribunal.

The advertisement drew attention to the website Mr O’Brien has established and which gives his views on the tribunal.

The advertisement consisted of a blank page with the words You Judge, in large black type, with the address of the website,, underneath.

“This website has been established by Mr OBrien as, in effect, a sustained polemic against the Moriarty tribunal and certain named individuals associated with it,” the Law Society’s director general, Ken Murphy, told The Irish Times. “The Law Society has taken no view either for or against Mr OBrien, on the one hand, or the Moriarty tribunal, on the other. It would be against the societys policy to take a partisan position on a public controversy of this kind.

“In accordance with this policy, the society decided not to carry the advertisement in question. To have carried it could have misled readers into believing that the society had taken a public position on the controversy between Mr OBrien and the Moriarty tribunal which it has not.”

A spokesman for Mr O’Brien said he was “disappointed with the decision of the Law Society but there are other initiatives planned to focus increased attention and scrutiny on the Moriarty tribunal”.

A copy of the advertisement appears in the latest edition of Business Finance magazine.

The website, which says it was set up by Mr O’Brien to “help explain and expose the inner workings” of the tribunal, went live about three weeks ago.

The tribunal has been investigating Mr O’Brien since 2001 and is examining whether he gave money to former minister for transport, energy and communications Michael Lowry. It is also investigating whether Mr Lowry did anything to assist Mr O’Brien’s consortium, Esat Digifone, win the mobile phone licence issued to it in 1996.

The tribunal may issue its long-awaited report in the coming months. In a series of newspaper interviews in July, Mr O’Brien apparently revealed many of the tribunal’s provisional findings, which he disputed, including findings that he had a corrupt relationship with Mr Lowry, and that the licence was issued illegally to Esat Digifone.

His website deals with several issues including the legal nature of tribunal chairman Mr Justice Michael Moriarty’s findings, the evidence of civil servants, government ministers, and economist Peter Bacon, the cost of the tribunal, matters concerning tribunal counsel Jerry Healy SC, and the legal opinion given in 1996, by Richard Nesbitt SC, to the State, at the time the licence was being issued. Mr Nesbitt earlier this year gave evidence that he had advised in 1996 that the licence could legally be issued to Esat.