Lucinda Creighton’s statement on Lisa Smith a ‘blatant contempt of court’, judges told

Former Defence Forces member denies charge of membership of Islamic State

Lisa Smith, arriving at the Special Criminal Court on Monday. Photograph: Collins Courts

Lisa Smith, arriving at the Special Criminal Court on Monday. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A statement by a former minister of state concerning Lisa Smith’s bid to dismiss charges against her, including of being a member of Islamic State, is “a blatant contempt of court”, the Special Criminal Court has been told.

Michael O’Higgins SC, for former Defence Forces member Ms Smith, said on Monday his side has referred the statement by Lucinda Creighton to the DPP.

He said the statement was issued by a public relations firm to the media last week on behalf of Ms Creighton, who was minister of state for European affairs from 2011 to 2013, a Dublin South East TD from 2007 to 2016 and a former leader of Renua. She is currently senior advisor to the Counter Extremism Project in Europe.

Mr O’Higgins said his side considered the statement to be “a blatant contempt of court”. If the DPP chooses not to bring contempt proceedings, Ms Smith’s side will consider doing so, counsel said. Seán Gillane SC, for the DPP, said he was awaiting instructions in the matter.

After a brief adjournment, Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding at the three judge, non-jury, court, said it was unaware of Ms Creighton’s statement until counsel raised it.

No jury is involved, the court is “impervious” to such material and would await the DPP’s reaction before making any decision on the matter, he said.

Mr O’Higgins referred to a Supreme Court case which addressed legal issues in proceedings by Eamon Kelly, of Furry Park Road, Dublin, over an Irish Times article published after Kelly was convicted in May 1993 on drugs charges but before he was sentenced.

The Supreme Court had said it can be a contempt of court to publish an article after a criminal trial before a jury but before sentence is imposed by a judge.

Mr O’Higgins raised Ms Creighton’s statement as the court was embarking on the hearing of the pre-trial application by Ms Smith for orders striking out charges against her of being a member of Islamic State and financing terrorism.

If the application is rejected, Ms Smith’s trial, scheduled for 12 weeks, will proceed before the three judge, non-jury court.

Ms Smith, wearing a grey coat, navy head scarf and face covering, who is on bail, attended at the Criminal Courts of Justice on Monday for the hearing of the application, brought under section 4.e of the Criminal Procedure Act.

The section imposes certain restrictions on reporting of such applications.

From Dundalk, Co Louth, the 39-year-old denies a charge of membership of an unlawful terrorist group, Islamic State (Isis), between October 28th, 2015 and December 1st, 2019.

She has also denied a charge of financing terrorism by sending €800 in assistance, via a Western Union money transfer, to a named man on May 6th, 2015.

The pre-trial application is brought on the basis that the evidence is not sufficient to safely ground a conviction on any of the charges against Ms Smith. The prosecution is opposing the application.

The hearing of the application continues on Tuesday.