O’Brien seeking to ‘join’ Ganley to his action against Red Flag Consulting

Galway-based telecoms businessman is named in several legal documents

Declan Ganley:  Denis O’Brien claims the Galway-based telecoms businessman is the man behind a  dossier at the heart of his legal action against Red Flag Consulting.  Photograph: Getty Images

Declan Ganley: Denis O’Brien claims the Galway-based telecoms businessman is the man behind a dossier at the heart of his legal action against Red Flag Consulting. Photograph: Getty Images


Denis O’Brien has breathed new life into his legal action against Red Flag Consulting by claiming that Declan Ganley, a Galway-based telecoms businessman, is the man behind the dossier at the heart of his legal action against the PR company.

That Mr Ganley has denied being the unidentified client matters little in that his name will be kicked about for some time to come as a result of being dragged into the action. He is named in several legal documents, most of which are not yet accessible to the public.

If Mr O’Brien succeeds in what he is now trying to do Mr Ganley’s alleged role will be looked at in detail, and he will be obliged to respond, initially by affidavit (a sworn statement) and possibly in person eventually.

By way of a Notice of Motion, made on December 8th and lodged in the High Court office on December 11th, Mr O’Brien seeks orders of the High Court to do two things.

Firstly, he wants Mr Ganley to be “joined”, by order of the court, as a co-defendant in his (Mr O’Brien’s) long-running legal action against Red Flag.

Secondly, he seeks an order allowing him to amend the statement of claim he filed against Red Flag on December 4th.

Memory stick

The case goes back to October 2015, when Mr O’Brien claims to have received, anonymously, a USB memory stick. On it was a dossier of mostly newspaper articles but also several highly unflattering profile-type portraits of Mr O’Brien and his business career, both assessed negatively.

Mr O’Brien describes the contents of the USB stick as “false and highly defamatory”, malicious and part of a criminal conspiracy against him with the aim of destroying his businesses.

And he has attached particular importance – “perhaps most significance”, in his words – to a draft speech by former Fianna Fáil TD and long standing critic of him Colm Keaveney, which was also in the dossier.

The draft was close in content to a speech made in the Dáil by Mr Keaveney on June 9th, 2015, at the height of the controversy surrounding Mr O’Brien over his banking arrangements with IBRC and purchase of Siteserv.

Both before and after the speech Mr Keaveney had taken issue with Mr O’Brien and company acquisitions he made from State agencies.

Both men are suing each other: Mr Keaveney over alleged defamation in the Irish Independent; Mr O’Brien over Mr Keaveney’s speech.

However, it is apparent now that Mr Keaveney has sworn a statement which Mr O’Brien and his lawyers see as evidence that will be helpful to the businessman.

Three affidavits

This is apparent because the Notice of Motion cites three affidavits in support of the orders sought – one of them from Mr Keaveney. (Efforts to contact Mr Keaveney last night were unsuccessful).

Mr O’Brien launched his case against Red Flag (whose principals have strong historic connections to the O’Reilly-era at Independent News and Media which Mr O’Brien ended after a protracted and bitter boardroom battle) in October 2015.

Since then his main charge of conspiracy and defamation has been put to one side as he had battled to get access to files and computer records inside Red Flag, the legal device known as discovery. However, the courts have rebuffed him at every turn.

He is now seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court in the hope that it will overturn the Court of Appeal rejection of his challenge to a High Court discovery refusal.

The new Notice of Motion action means that while this is going on Mr O’Brien wants the High Court to involve itself by amending the building blocks of the case.