Former K Club manager says ‘messenger of Michael Smurfit’ made threats

Peter Curran says he went into ‘meltdown’ after alleged threats made at racetrack

Peter Curran  at the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts

Peter Curran at the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts


A former K Club catering manager has claimed before the High Court that a man he alleges threatened him at Punchestown Races was “the messenger of Dr Michael Smurfit”.

Peter Curran said, after the alleged encounter in toilets at Punchestown races on May 7th 2011, he went into “meltdown”.

He was giving evidence on the third day of his action against his former employer the K Club Ltd, Straffan, Co Kildare; Dr Michael Smurfit and K Club resort superintendent Gerry Byrne.

Mr Curran has claimed his way was blocked in the toilets at Punchestown Races by Mr Byrne.

He claims Mr Byrne told him: “Dr Smurfit has not forgotten the statements about him and the call girls. Dr Smurfit knows where to find you and this is not over.”

He claimed the alleged motive behind the alleged encounter was a reference to another case he had previously settled relating to his K Club employment in which he had referred in a document to call girls being given free use of the hotel facilities at the K Club.

The defendants have denied all claims.

Bernard McDonagh SC, for Mr Byrne, told the court on Friday his client will say he did not see Mr Curran at the races, did not have a conversation with him and never blocked his way coming out of the toilets.

‘Forced to leave’

Mr Curran was catering manager at the K Club between September 1997 and October 1998 when, he claims, he was forced to leave and later brought an unfair dismissal case, which was settled in March 1999.

He later brought High Court proceedings claiming alleged breach of his constitutional right to his good name and to earn a livelihood.

During the run-up to that case, in replies to written questions and particulars relating to alleged financial irregularities he had allegedly uncovered at the K Club, Mr Curran made reference to call girls, sometimes sourced abroad, being given free use of the hotel facilities at the K Club.

Those High Court proceedings were settled in 2008 and it is claimed it was an implied term of the agreement that Mr Curran would not be threatened, harassed or intimidated in any manner.

‘Very upset’

On Friday, during cross-examination, Mr McDonagh told Mr Curran that Mr Byrne would say he is is very upset by the “scandalous allegations”.

Mr Curran replied: “I don’t blame him for being upset. He was the messenger for Dr Smurfit. You don’t follow instructions, you get fired.”

The words he claims Mr Byrne used “could only come from Michael Smurfit”.

Mr Byrne should not have confronted him but Mr Byrne “was carrying out the instructions of Dr Smurfit”, he said.

He said he would also call a witness who would say he recognised Mr Byrne at the races.

Asked about the alleged encounter, Mr Curran said Mr Byrne used a “medium tone”.

“The demand was given. He was making sure it was delivered,” he added.

Asked why he had gone to Punchestown where he was likely to run into Smurfit personnel, Mr Curran said he was invited and he felt there would be “safety in numbers.”

The case before Mr Justice Anthony Barr continues on Tuesday.