Costs order in mobile licence case made against Lowry
Independent TD must pay his own costs for hearings over 1995 mobile licence
Michael Lowry: TD already facing multi-million euro legal costs, and a pending criminal trial. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Independent TD Michael Lowry, who is already facing multi-million euro legal costs, and a pending criminal trial, had another costs order made against him yesterday.
A judge in the High Court ruled that he will have to pay his own costs for hearings held to date in a case concerning the 1995 mobile phone licence competition.
Persona Digital Telephony, in a case against the State, has claimed that businessman Denis O’Brien’s Esat Digifone consortium won the competition by bribing the then communications minister, Mr Lowry – which is denied.
Persona director James Anthony Boyle said Persona was unable to pay for the case and wanted an English company to foot the bill. However, after several days of hearings at the High Court earlier this year, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly refused to allow the third-party funding arrangement.
In yesterday’s costs ruling, she said that while the State and Mr O’Brien were entitled to their costs in the case, the same was not true for Mr Lowry.
Both Mr O’Brien and Mr Lowry were joined to the case. Ms Justice Donnelly said Mr O’Brien was joined to the case by the High Court and in the interests of justice. But, she said, Mr Lowry’s position was not the same. He was not a defendant in the case taken by Persona but was added as a third party by the State. His involvement in the hearings to date was not necessary.
Given the court’s ruling on third-party funding, it is not clear if the Persona case will ever go to full hearing.
Earlier this year, in a different case, Mr Justice John Hedigan rejected Mr Lowry’s appeal against a decision by the Moriarty Tribunal that it would only pay one third of his costs, estimated to be several million euro.
Mr Lowry engaged in “a litany of falsification and deception” – including the falsification of a solicitor’s files – in his failure to co-operate with the tribunal, the judge said.
In April of this year the High Court ruled that Mr Lowry must pay the costs of a four-day hearing where he unsuccessfully sought to stop a criminal trial taking place where he is accused of certain tax offences.
Mr Justice Seamus Noonan rejected Mr Lowry’s judicial review challenge.
In his argument against having to foot the costs of the judicial review, Mr Lowry said he was facing a criminal trial for which there would be significant other costs.