Nine more suing INM and Leslie Buckley over alleged data hacking

High Court papers show second group of employees taking case against former chairman

Independent House, on Talbot Street, Dublin. The State’s corporate watchdog is investigating an alleged operation in INM in 2014 to secretly download the newspaper publisher’s back-up IT tapes to search its email system for information about several prominent individuals. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Independent House, on Talbot Street, Dublin. The State’s corporate watchdog is investigating an alleged operation in INM in 2014 to secretly download the newspaper publisher’s back-up IT tapes to search its email system for information about several prominent individuals. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Nine more people are suing Independent News and Media and its former chairman Leslie Buckley over alleged data hacking.

Journalist Sam Smyth, former INM executive Andrew Donagher, ex-chief financial officer Donal Buggy and former head of group treasury Anne Marie Healy are all seeking damages over an alleged data breach in 2014.

Papers lodged before the High Court on Friday show former INM employee Mandy Scott, PR executives Mark Kenny and Harriet Mansergh – a daughter of former Fianna Fáil TD Martin Mansergh – and Rory Godson, a former journalist and now PR consultant, have also lodged similar lawsuits.

In plenary summons, they are claiming breaches of data protection, privacy, confidentiality and their constitutional rights.

High profile media lawyer Simon McAleese, who represents seven of the litigants, is taking a separate personal case against both INM and Mr Buckley, which is also related to an investigation by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE). Mr McAleese is being represented by Dundon Callanan Solicitors based in Limerick.

The State’s corporate watchdog is investigating an alleged operation in INM in 2014 to secretly download the newspaper publisher’s back-up IT tapes to search its email system for information about several prominent individuals.

An affidavit by the Director of Corporate Enforcement Ian Drennan as part of his application to have court inspectors appointed to investigate INM includes allegations that the alleged data breach was secretly engineered by Mr Buckley, who chaired the board as a representative of its then major shareholder, Denis O’Brien.

The alleged activities at the company may have been part of “the broader use of INM for the benefit of” Mr O’Brien at the time, Mr Drennan claimed in his affidavit.

Mr Buckley denies any wrongdoing.

The Data Protection Commission is carrying out a separate investigation.

The nine fresh lawsuits follow similar legal proceedings taken by former INM executives Gavin O’Reilly and Karl Brophy, who succeeded in April in adding Mr Buckley as a defendant in their case against the publisher.

They have alleged Mr Buckley was “heavily involved in the wrongful acts” committed against them.

In court papers, they refer to a previous “long-running power struggle” at INM between Mr O’Reilly’s family and Mr O’Brien.

Last year, they received permission from the court to use the ODCE affidavits in their case.

They argue that these affidavits show that the alleged data leak was carried out “under the instruction” of Mr Buckley.

Earlier last month, Mr McAleese sought similar permission from the court to rely on the same material for his and his clients’ cases against INM and Mr Buckley.

The solicitor is taking a separate case against the defendants, claiming a statement by Mr Buckley about a costly legal contract between Mr McAleese and INM was damaging to him.