Army officer challenges State’s refusal to give him report into corruption allegations

Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Lane made a protected disclosure to senators

A report into allegations made by Lt Col Jerry Lane was not given to him, the High Court heard on Monday.

A report into allegations made by Lt Col Jerry Lane was not given to him, the High Court heard on Monday.

 

A senior army officer has launched a High Court challenge over the State’s refusal to provide him with an independent report into his allegations of corruption and misconduct within the military.

Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Lane claims he raised genuine concerns that preferential treatment was being afforded to another member of the Defence Forces to the detriment of other members.

In 2010, he attempted to raise the issue through the chain of military command as the other member was selected for, but ultimately did not get, a position which Lt Col Lane claimed the other person was ineligible for.

Lt Col Lane, from Bandon, Co Cork, made a protected disclosure to members of Seanad Éireann regarding his concerns which were raised in the Seanad in 2011.

Arising out of the disclosure, he claims he was subjected to a range of penalties, including threats of dismissal and involuntary retirement from the Defence Forces, but those threats were subsequently set aside.

Arising out of his complaints, the Minister for Defence had in 2016 appointed Colm Smyth SC to conduct an independent review of the allegations.

Copy of report sought

Thomas Creed SC, instructed by solicitor Kieran McCarthy, for Lt Col Lane told Mr Justice Séamus Noonan at the High Court on Monday the officer had cooperated with the investigations and furnished a 137-page submission.

While his client did raise some issues with the Minister for Defence, at no stage did he ask for the review to be terminated. He sought a copy of the report, and when that was not forthcoming, wrote to the former Taoiseach Enda Kenny seeking his intervention.

Counsel said his client was informed last June, because of issues he had raised, the Department of Defence would not be placing any reliance on Mr Smyth’s report, it would not be published and would be kept in a sealed file.

A fresh review was established into the allegations, to be conducted by Frank Callanan SC.

Counsel said Lt Col Lane wants to have sight of the first report as any findings or conclusions in that could affect his reputation. The refusal to give that to Lt Col. Lane breached his constitutional rights and fair procedures.

The decision to refuse access and proceed with a fresh review was irrational, unfair and amounted to an inequality of arms, it was further submitted.

In his action against the Minister for Defence, Ireland and the Attorney General Lt Col Lane seeks an order quashing the refusal to provide him with a copy of the first report and directing he be provided with that. He also seeks damages and a declaration the respondents have have acted unlawfully and in excess of jurisdiction by failing to provide him with a copy of the report.

Permission to bring the application was granted on an ex-parte - one side only represented- basis by Mr Justice Noonan who returned the matter to February.