Harris Auto claims campaign of ‘commercial intimidation and blackmail’ waged against it

High Court told of sale of bus to Glenferry Coaches

One of the country’s leading commercial vehicle suppliers has claimed in the High Court that a former customer has engaged in “a campaign of commercial intimidation and blackmail” against it.

One of the country’s leading commercial vehicle suppliers has claimed in the High Court that a former customer has engaged in “a campaign of commercial intimidation and blackmail” against it.

 

One of the country’s leading commercial vehicle suppliers has claimed in the High Court that a former customer has engaged in “a campaign of commercial intimidation and blackmail” against it.

The allegations have been made by Harris Auto Trading Company in ex parte proceedings against Glenferry Coaches Ltd, trading as Kearneys of Cork and its principle Roy Kearney, of Waterfront Business Park, Little Island, Cork. Only Harris Auto was represented in court.

Harris Auto, of Naas Road, Dublin, represented by Gary McCarthy SC, claimed that the campaign arose out of its sale and supply of a 41 seater bus for €225,000 to Glenferry earlier this year.

A dispute, now before the High Court, arose concerning the vehicle which, it is alleged was not handed back to Harris after the contract was rescinded and the money repaid. Late last month the defendants agreed to return the bus and the dispute was remitted to the Circuit Court.

Since the making of that order Harris claims Glenferry Coaches and Kearney have engaged in a campaign against it which includes the making of false statements, interference with third-party contractual relationships and the making of unlawful demands in the nature of blackmail and extortion.

Mr McCarthy said it was Harris Auto’s contention that Mr Kearney is the administrator of a private Facebook site called Higher Nightmare Coach Stories which makes many false comments about Harris and its brands.

He said the Facebook site, which Harris wants taken down, also contained a picture of one of Harris’s senior employees with the caption “not all cowboys wear hats.”

Mr McCarthy said Harris Auto was claiming that the defendants had staged a photograph to make it look like the bus supplied by Harris was not road worthy while independent inspections of the vehicle had found it to be road worthy.

Counsel said Harris Auto had been informed that the Glenferry Coaches and Mr Kearney had contacted other coach operator customers in an attempt to stop them doing business with Harris.

Mr McCarthy told the court that Harris had also received several anonymous phone calls telling the company to “Pay Roy what you owe him” and to put “€60,000 of cleared funds in Roy Kearney’s solicitors account and then all the Facebook trouble will go away”.

Counsel said Harris Auto had issued issued the defendants with a cease and desist letter but had not received any response.

Mr McCarthy said Harris Auto was now seeking injunctions restraining the defendants from making threats, intimidatory communications, and extortionate demands. It was also looking for an injunction restraining the defendants from publishing any untrue statements and malicious falsehoods about it as well as seeking orders restraining the defendants from interfering with contractual relations between Harris Auto and any third party.

The matter came before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds who granted Harris Auto permission to serve Glenferry Autos and Mr Kearney with short notice of its bid for restraining injunctions against them.

Judge Reynolds noted there had been previous interaction between the parties and declined to grant a temporary ex-parte injunction to Harris Auto but made the matter returnable to an early sitting of the High Court.