Negative briefing on McCabe ‘didn’t happen’, two journalists say
John Mooney does not believe Garda chiefs would have tried passing confidential material to him
John Mooney of the Sunday Times arrives for the Charleton tribunal in Dublin Castle on Monday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.
Two more journalists have rejected claims by the former head of the Garda Press Office about an alleged smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Eavan Murray of the Irish Sun and John Mooney of the Irish edition of the Sunday Times both told the Charleton Tribunal it was not the case that Supt Dave Taylor had briefed them negatively about Sgt McCabe.
Supt Taylor has claimed that while he was head of the Garda Press Office he was instructed by the then commissioner Martin Callinan to conduct a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe and that this was known to the then deputy commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan. Both officers have denied that this was so.
Ms Murray and Mr Mooney are two of eleven journalists who Supt Taylor said he spoke with as part of the alleged smear campaign. A number of others on the list have also denied the claim, while others have yet to give evidence.
Mr Mooney said that during the period concerned, he was being threatened with legal action by both Mr Callinan and Ms O’Sullivan. He said most of his communications with Supt Taylor involved these legal threats. “I don’t think I would have been suitable fodder for a smear campaign.”
Ms Murray, who claimed journalistic privilege as the reason for not answering any queries from the tribunal up to last week, said she had never been briefed by Supt Taylor in a negative way about Sgt McCabe.
She also said she had discussed the tribunal with Supt Taylor during a meeting over coffee in February of this year. Supt Taylor, in his evidence on May 15th, said that during the meeting they had not discussed the tribunal.
Ms Murray said that she discussed with Supt Taylor whether she was likely to be called to the tribunal but Supt Taylor did not tell her that he had already named her to the tribunal. At the time, she said, a letter from the tribunal alerting her to this, was “in the post”.
Ms Murray said that in March 2014 she travelled to Co Cavan to meet with the family of a woman, who is being called Ms D, who had made a claim of historical child sex abuse against Sgt McCabe in 2006.
The tribunal has heard the allegation was investigated and the Director of Public Prosecutions decided that, even if the contested claim was true, it would not constitute a sexual assault or an assault.
Ms Murray said she met the parents of Ms D but not the woman herself.
She said the couple seemed weary, exhausted and she felt very sorry for them. “I don’t mean that as a slur on Sgt McCabe at all.”
Ms Murray said she when told of the nature of the allegation that had been made against Sgt McCabe she was surprised by how minor it was.
She said it was not the case, as claimed by Supt Taylor, that she had discussed the visit with him prior to her going to the Ms D household. She did mention the visit to Supt Taylor, briefly, during a conversation the following week, she said.
She told the chairman, Mr Justice Peter Charleton, that she was sorry she had not opted at an earlier date to give information to the tribunal. She said she was also hoping she would not be called to give evidence.
She said she had been concerned Supt Taylor would use her name to bolster his claims about a smear campaign “and I was correct.”
A number of journalists with the Irish Examiner are scheduled to give evidence on Tuesday.