Former INM chief takes legal action against company and former chairman

Vincent Crowley is latest litigant over alleged data hacking at media company in 2014

Former INM  chief executive Vincent Crowley brought his legal action against the company and its former chairman Leslie Buckley in High Court proceedings filed on Friday. Photograph:  Alan Betson

Former INM chief executive Vincent Crowley brought his legal action against the company and its former chairman Leslie Buckley in High Court proceedings filed on Friday. Photograph: Alan Betson

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Former Independent News & Media chief executive Vincent Crowley has become the latest individual to take legal proceedings against the media company over alleged data hacking.

Mr Crowley, who was chief executive from 2012 to 2014, brought his legal action against the company and its former chairman Leslie Buckley in High Court proceedings filed on Friday.

More than a dozen former INM executives and employees and others have taken legal actions amid concerns that their privacy and data protection rights were breached in 2014 during an alleged “interrogation” of INM email data held by an outside company.

Breaches of data protection, privacy and confidentiality have been alleged in the legal cases.

The action taken by Mr Crowley, a former long-time INM executive who is now chairman of Newsbrands Ireland, formerly National Newspapers of Ireland, comes two weeks after nine sets of legal proceedings were taken against the firm and Mr Buckley over the suspected data breach.

Concerns

Mr Crowley is represented by the law firm Pinsent Masons.

The State’s corporate watchdog, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, is investigating an alleged operation to remove INM data back-up tapes from its IT department to an an external company outside the country where emails were searched over a period of months.

The regulator was successful in having High Court inspectors appointed to the company to investigate the company and the alleged data breach after two whistleblowers raised concerns.

A High Court judge has said the operation was allegedly directed by Mr Buckley, then chairman, and paid for by a firm owned by the company’s then main shareholder, Denis O’Brien.

Mr Crowley was named on a list of 19 individuals whom the ODCE believed were the subject of searches of the company’s data.

Mr Buckley has denied any wrongdoing and said the data interrogation was part of a cost reduction exercise in respect of a contract with a firm of solicitors.

Former INM chief executive Gavin O’Reilly and the company’s former director of corporate affairs Karl Brophy were the first to issue proceedings against INM last year, followed by Joe Webb, former chief executive of INM’s Irish division.

Mr Buckley was added as a defendant in the case taken by Mr O’Reilly and Mr Brophy in April, while he was the subject of a separate legal action taken by Mr Webb last month.

Nine others, including former INM journalist Sam Smyth and PR consultant Rory Godson, took legal actions against INM and Mr Buckley earlier this month.