Leslie Buckley seeks to have two inspectors withdrawn from INM investigation
Former chairman alleges ‘objective bias’ on their part
Former INM chairman Leslie Buckley: The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement raised concerns about an alleged data breach at INM in 2014 involving data being exported from the jurisdiction and interrogated by third parties. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
The High Court will next week hear an application by former Independent News & Media chairman Leslie Buckley to have two inspectors withdrawn from an investigation into an alleged data breach at the media group in 2014 and other matters.
Mr Buckley wants the court to have inspectors Sean Gillane and Robert Fleck recused from the inspection on grounds of alleged objective bias on their part in the investigation to date.
Alternatively, he wants orders revoking their appointment as inspectors.
The inspectors, whose investigation is continuing, but has been hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic, refute the claims of objective bias and have described the application as “fundamentally misconceived”.
Mr Justice Garrett Simons was told, during a case management hearing on Tuesday, that Mr Buckley’s application is ready to proceed as scheduled on October 13th.
The judge previously observed that Mr Buckley appeared to be inviting the court to carry out a “root and branch” examination of the inspectors’ work to date.
The inspectors were appointed by then High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly in September 2018 on the application of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).
The appointment was sought following the ODCE’s year long investigation into matters raised in protected disclosures made in 2016 and 2017 by former INM chief executive Robert Pitt and former INM chief financial officer Mr Preston.
The ODCE raised concerns about issues including an alleged data breach at INM in 2014. That involved data being exported from the jurisdiction and interrogated by third parties in what Mr Buckley, who stepped down as INM chairman in March 2018, has said was a cost-cutting exercise called Operation Quantum.