Lowry may seek to be joined to Persona case

Politician awaiting outcome of Denis O’Brien application

Michael Lowry: was minister for communications at the time the licence was awarded. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Michael Lowry: was minister for communications at the time the licence was awarded. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

 


Former minister for communications Michael Lowry may seek to be joined with the State as a defendant in the case in which Persona, the entity that came second in the 1995 mobile phone licence competition, is suing for damages.

An application from businessman Denis O’Brien to be joined as defendant in the action is due to be heard next January and Mr Lowry is expected to seek to be joined to the case also if Mr O’Brien’s application is successful. Mr Lowry would not comment on the matter when contacted yesterday.

Persona, a consortium that lost out to Esat Digiphone – then owned by Mr O’Brien – in the competition, is suing the State, alleging the licence was awarded as a result of deceit and dishonesty.

The State, in separate proceedings, is seeking to have Mr O’Brien and Mr Lowry made liable for any damages that might be awarded against it arising from Persona’s case. Mr Lowry was minister for communications at the time the licence was awarded.


Persona
Persona’s directors are businessmen Tony Boyle and Michael McGinley, the father of golfer Paul McGinley.

The two businessmen now own the legal rights to Persona, the shareholders of which included Motorola at the time of the licence competition.

The Moriarty tribunal, in its final report in 2011, found that Mr Lowry interfered in the competition to the benefit of Esat and that Mr O’Brien made efforts to confer financial benefits on Mr Lowry. Both men have strenuously contested the findings.

An attempt by the State to prevent Persona taking the case was rejected by the Supreme Court, which found that it was in the State’s interest that the hearing go ahead.

Mr Justice Frank Clarke, in the Supreme Court ruling, said that were the tribunal’s findings to be established in a court of law, they would be the most serious factual determinations since the foundation of the State.


Tribunal costs
Mr Lowry said last week that the tribunal had refused him approximately two-thirds of his legal costs, which are understood to be in the region of €8 million. Mr O’Brien has yet to receive his costs order.

The former minister is appealing a judgment order for €650,000 plus VAT, granted against him earlier this week in favour of Dublin accountants BBT. This forms part of bills arising from work done for the politician during the tribunal inquiry.

Businessman Declan Ganley’s Comcast International Holdings Inc, which finished sixth in the mobile licence competition, is also suing the State for damages.