Cases against bank officials blocked

 

THREE PRIVATE criminal prosecutions taken out by a solicitor and property owner against two Bank of Ireland officials and a solicitor employed by the bank were blocked by a High Court judge yesterday.

Senior counsel Martin Hayden told Mr Justice Peter Charleton that solicitor and property owner-developer Angela Farrell had applied to the District Court and had been granted the private prosecution summonses.

In them, she charged bank officials Dermot Frehill and Brian Feeley with perjury allegedly committed in evidence given to the High Court in earlier proceedings in which the bank sought to recover a €4.3 million loan from her.

Mr Hayden told the court that Ms Farrell had also charged solicitor Mark Woodcock, of McDowell Purcell, solicitors, with fraud. Mr Woodcock had represented the bank in the earlier proceedings.

Mr Hayden, who appeared with Shane Costelloe for the three applicants, said the charges made against them by Ms Farrell were wholly without foundation.

Mr Justice Charleton heard Ms Farrell, who has offices at North Great Georges Street, Dublin, had borrowed €4.3 million from the bank to buy 49 North Great Georges Street and a property behind it facing on to Hill Street.

She had also purchased eight development sites in Duleek, Co Meath, on the strength of the 2007 loan. By September 2008, she had stopped making any repayments and proceedings had been taken in 2009 to repossess the properties concerned.

Mr Hayden said the bank had obtained orders for possession in the High Court. Ms Farrell had unsuccessfully appealed matters to the Supreme Court and, in all, there had been about 30 court appearances regarding the bank’s proceedings to recover the debt.

He said Ms Farrell was seeking to maintain a purely private grievance against the two bank officials and the solicitor for the bank. Her actions constituted what was now recognized as a collateral attack upon an existing judgment of the High Court.

Mr Justice Charleton granted the three applicants an order of prohibition against continuation of each of the criminal cases Ms Farrell had taken against them.

He told barrister Tim Dixon, for Ms Farrell, the charges by his client may have been brought in good faith but had very definitely been sought in error.

Such large institutions as the Bank of Ireland had a responsibility to protect the rights of their employees and he was making no finding against the bank, he said.