Seán Fitzpatrick trial: Anti-austerity campaigners ruled out of jury

Frank Daly and Alan Dukes among witnesses to give evidence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank Seán Fitzpatrick at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday. Photograph: Collins

Former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank Seán Fitzpatrick at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday. Photograph: Collins

 

Anyone who took part in anti-austerity campaigning has been ruled out as a potential juror in the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán Fitzpatrick.

Judge John Aylmer told the jury panel they should not serve if they were part of any group that campaigned against austerity, or such like, or had suffered because of the banking crisis, or felt their strong feelings on the matter of Anglo or in relation to bankers meant they could not be impartial or fair.

Likewise they should not serve if they had worked for Anglo or some other Irish bank, were former bank shareholders, or connected with Ernst and Young, now called EY, or worked for the Central Bank or other institutions connected to financial regulation.

The judge made the comments prior to the selection of a jury for the trial at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday morning.

During the jury selection, one woman who was called said she was “decidedly not neutral in relation to bankers.” She was excused from the process.

Mr Fitzpatrick (68), of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, has pleaded not guilty to 27 charges under the Companies Act 1990 relating to the misleading of the bank’s auditors, Ernst & Young, in relation to multi-million euro loans he and connected persons had from the bank between 2002 and 2008. The largest amount in any one year was €119.8 million. The charges include ones concerning what he told the auditors about arrangements between Anglo and Irish Nationwide Building Society, in relation to the Anglo loans, and what he told the auditors in relation to aggregate directors’ loans at the bank.

A panel of 15 jurors, eight women and seven men, was selected for the trial, which could last for 12 weeks. A decision will be made by just 12 members at the end of the trial.

Mr Fitzpatrick stood, his hands clasped before him, as each of the 27 charges were read to him. He pleaded not guilty to each in turn.

The judge read out a list of the 75 expected witnesses in the case and said jurors should not serve if they knew them.

The chairman of the National Asset Management Agency, Frank Daly, and the former chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, Alan Dukes, are among the witnesses scheduled to give evidence.

The list also included Kieran Kelly, Vincent Bergin, Bernard Daly, Tiarnan O’Mahoney Fintan Drury, Kieran Wallace, Gary McGann, Matt Moran, Lar Bradshaw, Stan Purcell, Declan Quilligan and Anne Heraty, as well as Gardai and others.

Judge Aylmer told jurors they must not seek out information on the trial outside of court.

“We’re all aware of the availability to everyone of the internet, newspapers or social media,” he said. He also asked the the jurors not to discuss the case with family or friends.

He said legal argument in the absence of the jury, before evidence begins to be heard, is expected to last two weeks, beginning Monday.

Mr Fitzpatrick is being represented by Bernard Condon SC, Shelley Horan BL, Edward Doocey BL, and Claire Cummins BL, instructed by Michael Staines solicitors. Dominic McGinn SC, with John Byrne BL and Diana Stuart BL, are for the prosecution, instructed by the DPP.