Michael Smurfit in hospital in Monte Carlo after hip operation

Court hears K Club owner may have to give evidence by video link in action

Michael Smurfit, who was subpoenaed to give evidence in a case involving a former employee, has suffered complications following a hip operation. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Michael Smurfit, who was subpoenaed to give evidence in a case involving a former employee, has suffered complications following a hip operation. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Millionaire businessman Michael Smurfit, who was issued with a subpoena to attend the High Court to give evidence in a case by a former K Club employee, is in hospital in Monaco, the High Court has heard.

The 82-year-old businessman had a hip operation, suffered a complication and is in hospital in Monte Carlo, Mr Justice Anthony Barr was told on Thursday.

The judge is hearing an action by former K Club catering manager Peter Curran, who has sued Dr Smurfit, the K Club golf resort and a resort superintendent, Gerry Byrne.

Mr Curran, Cahirciveen, Co Kerry, has claimed his way was blocked by Mr Byrne on May 7th, 2011, in the toilets at Punchestown races, when Mr Byrne allegedly said: “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.”

The defendants have denied all claims.

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

Complication

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Barr had granted permission to Mr Curran’s lawyers for a subpoena to be served at the offices of Dr Smurfit’s solicitors and at his Monaco address requiring Dr Smurfit to attend the court and give evidence.

On Thursday, when the case resumed, Rossa Fanning SC said Dr Smurfit had had a hip operation on Monday and had suffered a complication with a fractured femur which necessitated a further operation.

Counsel said Dr Smurfit is in hospital in Monte Carlo and it might be the case that his evidence would be taken by video link.

Mr Justice Barr said the case would be heard four days next week and Mr Curran’s presentation of his case may go into October as this court term ends on July 31st.

In those circumstances, Dr Smurfit may have adequate time to recuperate, the judge said.

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

He later brought High Court proceedings alleging breach of his constitutional right to his good name and to earn a livelihood. The reference to call girls arose in the run up to that case. Those High Court proceedings were settled in 2008 and it is claimed it was an implied term of the agreement Mr Curran would not be threatened, harassed or intimidated in any manner.

The case continues on Tuesday.