Civil servant accused of leaking went ‘white as a ghost’ after seeing man in court

Jonathan Lennon (35) has pleaded not guilty to breaking the Official Secrets Act

 Jonathan Lennon is pictured  leaving Dublin District Court on Wednesday.  Photograph: Collins Courts

Jonathan Lennon is pictured leaving Dublin District Court on Wednesday. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A civil servant accused of leaking information about the imminent arrest of a suspect in the murder of a dissident republican was “white as a ghost” after seeing the man appear in court, a trial has heard.

Jonathan Lennon (35), from Clonee, Dublin 15, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin District Court to breaking the Official Secrets Act in relation to criminal proceedings resulting from the murder of Peter Butterly on March 6th, 2013.

Mr Lennon, who worked for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), is accused of four offences contrary to Section Four and 13 of the Official Secrets Act 1963. Judge John Hughes has heard that the accused allegedly alerted a third party that another person, who was a suspect, was about to be arrested after having a “nosey” in his file at work.

Mr Lennon began working in the DPP post room on January 3rd, 2017 and his role was to collect, deliver and circulate files.

There was a file relating to the murder of Butterly as part of an internal feud in an organisation styling itself as the IRA. The investigation led to a number of trials and some people were convicted of murder, firearms offences or IRA membership. It is alleged that Mr Lennon looked in the file and sent text messages to other individuals about an impending arrest. The court heard he also sent a text saying Butterly was “lured” by a friend to his death.

Permission

Orla Keenan, who had drafted the file, said she had used the phrase “lured” in the letter to describe the murder. She said the file was yellow and marked for dispatch and return and a service officer would have collected it but would not have had permission to read the documents.

Padraig Langsch BL, for Mr Lennon, put it to Ms Keenan that the Butterly murder had received media attention but the witness told him she was not aware the word “lured” had been used in news articles. It was put to Ms Keenan that there had been chit chat in the office about the file but she denied she would have referred to it as the “IRA murder in car park file”.

DPP official Denis Butler, who was in charge of preparing circuit court cases, told the trial he was involved in training and inducting new employees, who would be shown the courts.

He bumped into Mr Lennon and another service officer on September 8th, 2017, and was told that Mr Lennon was interested in seeing the Special Criminal Court, which he brought him to that day. Mr Butler advised Mr Lennon to leave after he told him he recognised a defendant in the court.

Harry Quinn, another service officer, said he was aware that Mr Lennon wanted to see the Special Criminal Court. He said that after Mr Lennon went to the court, he met him at work and he looked shocked and “white as a ghost”.

Mr Quinn said Mr Lennon told him: “I knew one man in the Special Criminal Court, I played football with him seven or eight years ago”.

The case continues.