Army officer resolves High Court case over access to report

Colonel Jerry Lane says he is no longer seeking a copy of barrister’s report

A senior army officer's action over the State's refusal to provide him with an independent report into his allegations of corruption and misconduct within the military has been resolved and withdrawn at the High Court.

The action was brought by the Defence Forces head of legal services, Colonel Jerry Lane, against the Minister for Defence, Ireland and the Attorney General.

The State Parties, represented by Margaret Nerney SC and Ronan Kennedy BL, denied any wrongdoing and argued Col Lane was not entitled to any of the reliefs he sought.

Following talks between the parties on Wednesday morning, Roughan Banim SC, for Col Lane, told Mr Justice Michael Twomey the case had been "settled".


Counsel said his client was “no longer seeking the independent report”, known as the Smyth report, the proceedings were being “withdrawn” and could be struck out.

When the case opened on Tuesday, the court was told it arose over concerns raised by Colonel Lane several years ago that preferential treatment was being afforded to another member of the Defence Forces to the detriment of other members.

Counsel said his client attempted in 2010 to raise the issue of the other officer’s alleged preferential treatment through the chain of military command, but nothing was done.

Col Lane was concerned the other officer was selected for, but ultimately did not get, a senior position which, Col Lane, claimed that officer was ineligible for.

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

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

The Minister for Defence had appointed Colm Smyth SC in 2016 to conduct an independent review of the allegations.

Due to issues raised by Col Lane, the Department of Defence decided it would not be placing any reliance on Mr Smyth's report and it would not be published and would be kept in a sealed file.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.

In his action, Col Lane sought to have sight of the first report on grounds any findings or conclusions in that document could affect his reputation.

He claimed the refusal to give him the report breached his constitutional rights and fair procedures and in his judicial review proceedings, sought orders directing he be provided with the report.

He also sought damages and a declaration the respondents have acted unlawfully and in excess of jurisdiction by failing to provide him with a copy of the report.

The respondents had opposed the action and denied the claims.