Garda whistleblower challenges legal expenses guidelines

Maurice McCabe claims guidelines are an arbitrary imposition of financial hardship

 

Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe has brought a legal challenge to guidelines concerning payment of legal costs and expenses for witnesses required to attend a Government investigation into allegations of garda malpractice in the Cavan/Monaghan Garda division.

Sgt McCabe claims the Minister for Justice’s guidelines on legal and other expenses for witnesses who will attend before the Commission are an arbitrary imposition of financial hardship on him.

The Commission of Investigation, whose sole member is retired High Court judge Kevin O’Higgins, was set up to examine all the allegations made by Sgt McCabe and set out in a 2014 report by barrister Seán Guerin recommending further investigation.

It was claimed that serious crimes including sexual assault, false imprisonment and child pornography, were not properly investigated.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, granted leave to Sgt McCabe’s lawyers to seek to quash part of the guidelines set out by the Minister for Justice and Equality under the Commissions of Investigations Act 2004.

The judge said he was only granting leave to challenge that section of the guidelines imposing an upper limit on the level of payments to lawyers attending the Commission.

The proceedings are against the Minister for Justice and the Commission is a notice party.

The matter will come back before the court next week.

The 11 allegations which the Commission was set up to inquire into include inadequate or failed investigations carried out by gardaí into matters ranging from the relatively minor to one grave incident.

That concerned the case of a Tipperary man, Jerry McGrath, who was out on bail after being charged with a serious assault in Baileboro, Co Cavan in February 2007.  In October that year, while still on bail, he was caught trying to abduct a child in Co Tipperary in October 2007.

Notwithstanding his history of assaults, McGrath did not have his bail revoked and, two months later, he murdered 33-year-old Sylvia Roche Kelly in a Limerick hotel.