Agreement in charity case - ODCE to access Console computers

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement agreed protocols with charity founder Paul Kelly and his wife Patricia

  Console founder Paul Kelly  leaving the Four Courts on Friday. Photograph: Collins Courts

Console founder Paul Kelly leaving the Four Courts on Friday. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

The State’s corporate watchdog has secured a High Court order allowing it to commence the examination of material on computers taken from the suicide counselling charity Console.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) secured the order after several protocols as to how the investigation of files held on electronic devices is to be conducted was agreed with Console’s founder Paul Kelly and his wife Patricia.

It has been provided with the charity’s books and records by the charity’s liquidator.

The Kellys had raised concerns about the proposed search in relation to the use of any documents stored on the computers which they claim are private and unconnected with the investigation and over matters they claim are covered by professional privilege.

At the High Court on Friday, Kerida Naidoo SC for the ODCE told Ms Justice Caroline Costello that an agreement had been reached with the Kellys, represented by Sara Phelan SC, in regards to the examination of the electronic files.

Counsel said among the “best practise protocols” on how the search of the devices is to be conducted it was agreed that the Kellys would provide the ODCE with a list of files they say are private.

This was to be done by the end of August, counsel said. He said files deemed private and irrelevant would not be used or accessed by the ODCE and would be stored separately.

Protocols had also been agreed with the HSE to ensure that confidential information on the computers relating to patients who had been counselled by Console would not be accessed or used by the ODCE, the court heard.

Counsel said the ODCE examined electronic documents stored on the charity’s computers investigation into the conduct of the charity’s affairs before its liquidation in July 2016 to see if any potential breaches of the Companies Act had been committed.

At this point in time, counsel said, there is currently no prosecution and no charges have been brought against anyone in relation to the charity’s affairs.

And it was hoped that this discrete issue would not trouble the courts again.

Ms Phelan told the court the Kellys are co-operating, but were reserving their position in relation to any documents that could potentially be used by the ODCE in the future.

After granting the ODCE the order Ms Justice Costello adjourned the matter to a date in October.