Red Flag staff ordered by judge to hand over computers and devices

Denis O’Brien is suing firm over allegations of defamation and conspiracy to damage him

Businessman Denis O’Brien: believes the Red Flag firm was involved in putting material  together for an unnamed client. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Businessman Denis O’Brien: believes the Red Flag firm was involved in putting material together for an unnamed client. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

A judge has ordered various executives and staff of the Dublin-based Red Flag consulting firm, which is being sued by billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien, to hand over any personal computers and devices used for work for “forensic imaging”.

The order allows forensic experts to photograph material on the equipment pending a ruling on whether that material can be inspected for use in Mr O’Brien’s action against Red Flag and various of its executives and staff, alleging defamation and conspiracy to damage him personally and professionally.

Mr Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh said the order would balance the rights to privacy of the individuals and Mr O’Brien’s right to establish the “fingerprints” on a dossier of material sent to him anonymously.

Mr O’Brien claims that material is largely unfavourable to him and he believes the Red Flag firm was involved in putting it together for an unnamed client. The judge said that in this case, the “Rubicon of the invasion of privacy” was crossed when the court last month ordered the preservation of the equipment at issue after which the forensic imaging was also ordered.

Privacy

Mr O’Brien had generously agreed to pay the “reasonable” costs of the forensic imaging process, the judge said, estimated to be about €30,000.

On completion of that process, the material will be stored pending a hearing on December 8th on whether it may be inspected by Mr O’Brien’s side.

The judge’s order means Red Flag chairman Seamus Conboy, chief executive Karl Brophy, non-executive director Gavin O’Reilly and two staff members must provide, for forensic imaging, any personal computers, laptops, mobile phones and other devices used for work purposes.