A former TD's sworn testimony in support of Denis O'Brien's legal action against Red Flag Consulting is tainted by an offer of €250,000 made to him by a representative of the businessman, according to the TD's former parliamentary assistant.
Details of the alleged offer are contained in an affidavit sworn by Alan Hynes, former parliamentary assistant to Colm Keaveney, the ex-TD for Galway East, who was a long-term critic of Mr O'Brien before swearing an affidavit last December supporting Mr O'Brien's case against Red Flag.
Mr Keaveney named Galway businessman Declan Ganley as the man who commissioned Red Flag to compile a dossier critical of Mr O'Brien which O'Brien claims both defames him and is evidence of a criminal conspiracy against him.
Mr Ganley denies this but in the High Court yesterday, lawyers for Mr O'Brien applied formally for him to be joined as a co-defendant.
Mr O’Brien’s counsel, Michael Cush SC, read several affidavits, including one by Alan Hynes. In it, Mr Hynes says Mr Keaveney told him that, in meeting “Denis O’Brien’s representative”, €250,000 was mentioned to him.
‘Agreed to co-operate’
Mr Cush read from Mr Hynes’ affidavit: “Mr Keaveney informed me,” Mr Hynes swore, “that he agreed to co-operate with the Plaintiff [Mr O’Brien] as part of the settlement of the plaintiff’s defamation proceedings against him [Mr Keaveney]. I say and believe that this taints the veracity of the averments [assertions] sworn by Mr Keaveney in these proceedings in support of the plaintiff’s application to amend his pleadings.
“Mr Keaveney had initially indicated to me that the settlement offer was just a discussion but that he was minded to take it. A rough figure of €250,000 to settle the proceedings was mentioned to me by Mr Keaveney.
“At one stage Mr Keaveney told me that his response to Denis O’Brien’s representative had been ‘just tell me what he needs said and I’ll say it’.”
At the time of the alleged offer, Mr Keaveney was bankrupt.
Mr Cush also read a responding affidavit from Mr Keaveney in which he rejected Mr Hynes’ version of events. Mr Keaveney swore in this affidavit that he [Mr Keaveney] “misinterpreted” a communication from his own solicitor.
“I had interpreted this communication as meaning that arrangements had been made to meet with Mr O’Brien’s representatives to discuss [his case against INM]. In fact, what the communication meant was that I was to meet with the other Senior Counsel I had engaged to act for me in those proceedings, Mr Hugh Moran SC.”
In a day-long submission before Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan, Mr Cush argued that legal precedent was on Mr O’Brien’s side in seeking to join Mr Ganley and amend the statement of claim.
The amendment was to the effect that Red Flag had encouraged a department of finance official, Neil Ryan, who was seconded to IBRC, to breach the Official Secrets Act by disclosing confidential information to the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin.
Red Flag denies this and yesterday, solicitors for the IBRC liquidators, complained that an affidavit sworn for Mr O'Brien by former IBRC banker Tom Hunnerson, and an exhibit supporting it, breached bank confidentiality and should not be disclosed.
Mr Cush said Mr O'Brien's solicitor, Diarmuid O'Comhain of Eames Solicitors, had provided evidence – copies of texts and emails between Mr Keaveney and Karl Brophy, Red Flag's chief executive, and affidavits from Mr Keaveney and others – supporting the assertion that Mr Ganley was the PR company's client; that Mr Brophy had encouraged Mr Keaveney to say things about Mr O'Brien under protection of Dáil privilege; and had been instrumental in arranging a "very confidential non-meeting" between Neil Ryan and Micheál Martin "to give him some information".
Mr Cush is expected to conclude his application today after which lawyers for Red Flag and Mr Ganley are expected to respond.
*Denis O’Brien’s lawyers complained to ‘The Irish Times’
Lawyers for Denis O’Brien complained to the Editor of The Irish Times over an email sent in February to Colm Keaveney by reporter Peter Murtagh, Mr O’Brien’s barrister, Michael Cush, told the High Court.
Reading from an affidavit sworn by Mr Keaveney, Mr Cush said on February 6th, Murtagh wrote to Mr Keaveney, saying: “Hi Colm, wanna talk? This one won’t go away and you can still be on the side of the angels . . . Best Peter”.
The response from the Editor was, said Mr Cush, to the effect “this wasn’t an attempt to get a witness to change his evidence. The reference to being ‘on the side of the angels’ was a reference to being on the side of the media, and in particular to the giving of interviews.
“So,” said Mr Cush, “that is an explanation for that.”