Denis O’Brien entitled to copy of second report from INM inspectors, court rules

High Court rules former INM chief financial officer also entitled to report

Mr Justice Simons made the rulings during a hearing on how to proceed with an application by former INM chairman Leslie Buckley to have the inspectors removed. Photograph: iStock

Mr Justice Simons made the rulings during a hearing on how to proceed with an application by former INM chairman Leslie Buckley to have the inspectors removed. Photograph: iStock

 

Businessman Denis O’Brien is entitled to a copy of the second interim report of court-appointed inspectors investigating an alleged data leak at Independent News and Media (INM), the High Court ruled on Wednesday.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons also said former INM chief financial officer, Ryan Preston, is entitled to the report.

The report was prepared by inspectors who were appointed following a year-long investigation by the Office of the Director of Corporate Affairs (ODCE) into matters raised in protected disclosures made in 2016 and 2017 by Mr Preston and by former INM chief executive Robert Pitt.

Mr O’Brien, a former majority shareholder in INM, was joined as a notice party in the case earlier this month.

Mr Justice Simons made the rulings during a hearing on how to proceed with an application by former INM chairman Leslie Buckley to have the inspectors removed.

Mr Buckley seeks their removal or recusal on grounds of alleged objective bias. The inspectors and the ODCE oppose the application.

Application

The judge said he hoped to hear an application from the Buckley side next month, or else in September, over whether there should be a stay on the cross-examination of certain witnesses in the case.

He will also hear an application on that date on behalf of a number of people, including journalists, for permission from the court to use certain evidence in any possible future litigation against INM and Mr Buckley over the alleged data leak. The court heard the number of people seeking that permission had grown from seven to 11 in the last couple of weeks.

He also set a date in October for the hearing of Mr Buckley’s main case seeking removal of the inspectors. The case will be heard as a remote hearing unless there is a change in the coronavirus advice by then, the judge said.