Former La Stampa owner apologises for calling receiver ‘a thug’
Louis Murray withdraws comments made in High Court about bank-appointed receiver
Louis Murray is suing AIB and a receiver the bank appointed over 35/36 Dawson Street, which housed Murray’s La Stampa restaurant, a hotel and bar
Former La Stampa restaurant owner Louis Murray instructed his lawyer to apologise for comments made by Mr Murray about a bank-appointed receiver, including calling him “a thug” and to withdraw those comments, the High Court has heard.
The apology came on Thursday afternoon after the court was told Mr Murray, who has been suffering from cancer, was unable to resume his evidence. It is hoped he will be able to do so on Friday, Mr Justice David Barniville was told.
Mr Murray is suing AIB and Declan McDonald, a receiver the bank appointed over 35/36 Dawson Street, which housed the restaurant, a hotel and bar, after Mr Murray and his company, Bailieboro Spring Water, in receivership, failed to meet a demand for repayment of €19.8 million in loans.
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Murray agreed with Lyndon MacCann SC, for AIB and the receiver, he had been “in a quite emotional state” when giving direct evidence on Wednesday because it was about losing his business.
Mr MacCann put to him it was “entirely inappropriate” for him to say Mr McDonald had acted in a “reprehensible and evil” way and for Mr Murray to say he “had never been confronted by such a thug in my life”.
Counsel asked Mr Murray to withdraw those remarks and apologise.
Mr Murray said he had had years to reflect on the behaviour of the receiver.
“During those years, Mr McDonald entered my mind and there are no circumstances whatsoever in which I will consider changing what I said yesterday.
“And if you want me to repeat it, I will do so.”
Asked how many times he had met Mr McDonald, he said “once”.
He disagreed there were only two other times when they were in direct communication.
Mr MacCann said the first was a phone call to Mr Murray when Mr McDonald was appointed, and the other was a series of “abusive texts” Mr Murray sent to Mr McDonald in 2015.
Counsel said the texts were sent after Mr Murray had been advised that €1,000 per week he had been receiving was being stopped because the property was being put on the market.
Mr Murray said AIB had unlawfully frozen his deposit account, which was in breach of the terms on which he had opened the account when it was with the former Anglo Irish Bank and later taken over by AIB.
As a result, he did not have money to pay for his basic needs, including food, he said.
He said he had sent numerous emails and letters to Mr McDonald but got no response.
Counsel said these were new allegations which he had not put in his pre-hearing witness statement.
Mr Justice David Barniville told Mr Murray he had to confine his evidence to what was in his statement.
Mr MacCann put to Mr Murray he was wrong in what he had said in several important respects, including a claim he had a €100 million deal with the Royal Irish Automobile Club (RIAC), which adjoins the Dawson Street business, to extend the hotel into the RIAC premises.
Mr Murray agreed he had been “in discussions” with the RIAC, but it was not a deal.
He said he was mistaken when he said previously he had funding from drinks companies to extend the bar, as it was only a loan offer.
When counsel put to him there were many aspects of his witness statement he “knew nothing about”, he said the statement was drafted by his counsel after a meeting between them.
Mr MacCann asked was there anything else in the statement he didn’t know about. Mr Murray said, if he was given 30 minutes, he would go through it. “But you are scraping the barrel,” he told counsel.
Mr Murray then said he would like to take up the judge’s earlier offer to take a break if he was getting tired.
Mr Justice Barniville agreed to adjourn for a short time and also urged the sides to take the time as there were “other ways to resolve this dispute”.
When the case resumed, John Fitzgerald SC, for Mr Murray, said his client was unwell and had to leave the court building.
Counsel said he had instructions to withdraw the personal comments made by Mr Murray against the receiver on Wednesday and to apologise for those.
The court heard it was hoped Mr Murray would be well enough on Friday to resume his evidence.