Mahon tribunal apologises to former FF minister Ray Burke

Findings of obstruction withdrawn, meaning costs up to €5m can be claimed

Ray Burke: Has received a letter of apology from the tribunal. Photograph: Peter Thursfield/The Irish Times

Ray Burke: Has received a letter of apology from the tribunal. Photograph: Peter Thursfield/The Irish Times

 

The Mahon tribunal has apologised to former minister Ray Burke and a number of businessmen for finding they hindered and obstructed its work.

A spokesman for the tribunal, which inquired into certain planning matters, confirmed yesterday that all the findings of hindering and obstruction made against individuals in its second and third interim reports were in the process of being removed.

The decision means Mr Burke will now be entitled to claim his full legal costs for his lengthy appearances at the tribunal as will the others against whom findings of hindering and obstruction have been dropped.

When the tribunal issued its second interim report, in 2002, the legal costs in Mr Burke’s case were estimated at about €10 million. Changes in the system of charges since then mean they probably amount to about €5 million at this stage.

A number of businessmen including Oliver Barry and James Stafford, who established Century Radio, will also benefit from the decision.

It is understood Mr Burke and the other individuals concerned have received a letter of apology from the tribunal and have been informed they are entitled to claim their legal costs.

Jail sentence

Mr Burke was sentenced to six months in jail in 2004 for failing to make a proper tax return. The tribunal’s decision to reverse its finding arises from a Supreme Court decision in July of last year. In a case against the tribunal taken by Joseph Murphy Structural Engineers (JMSE) the judges raised a number of concerns about the way the allegations made by the tribunal’s key witness, James Gogarty, against Mr Burke and a number of other people had been handled.

The Supreme Court found, and the tribunal accepted, that important material described by one of the judges as “potentially explosive” and which was relevant to the credibility of Mr Gogarty, was wrongly withheld.

The material included allegations made by Mr Gogarty, who died in 2005, against a politician and a law officer.

In light of the tribunal having conceded in the JMSE case that the material should not have been withheld its findings of corruption against former Dublin city assistant manager George Redmond and all other adverse findings against him have already been reversed.

In a statement on its website last week the chairman of the tribunal, Mr Justice Alan Mahon, said the estimate of €159 million for its total costs still stood, despite the outcome of the Redmond case.