Positive Action case costs not revealed

Tue, Apr 3, 2012, 01:00

THE COSTS associated with an unfair dismissal case settled by Positive Action, a hepatitis C support group, have not been revealed to its funding body, the Health Service Executive, on grounds of confidentiality.

The information was contained in documents released to The Irish Times under a Freedom of Information request, which sought correspondence between the HSE and Positive Action.

On November 22nd, 2011, the HSE wrote to Positive Action asking what legal costs it incurred in a settlement reached in an unfair dismissals claim taken by a former employee.

In a response dated January 19th, 2012, the group said it had spent €10,949 in legal fees in 2011 relating to an unfair dismissal action.

However, it did not reveal a number of items requested by the HSE in its November letter, including the “anticipated costs incurred, a breakdown of the actual expenditure items and the provisions which have been made by Positive Action to offset these costs in 2011”.

The HSE said if there was an issue with disclosure of any information requested, the organisation should supply confirmation of this from its solicitors. It said this should detail the wording of any confidentiality clause secured against Positive Action by the third party.

It added: “Please be advised that the HSE is not giving any commitment to funding this cost, particularly in the absence of full disclosure.”

In its response in January, Positive Action said the bill of costs “would be settled in full at the end of the year and included in 2011 accounts”.

It also gave the wording of the confidentiality clause in the agreement of the unfair dismissals claim: “The fact of and the terms of the . . . settlement to remain confidential as between the parties herein and their legal advisers and other professional advisers as required by law as are the issues giving rise to these proceedings.”

Positive Action is a support group for women infected with hepatitis C through contaminated blood products from the Irish Blood Transfusion Board. It got €558,000 in funding in 2011, according to the HSE.

In recent months the HSE has restricted funding to it and Transfusion Positive while it seeks information on their 2010 and 2011 accounts.