Planning Tribunal: Suppression of material ‘inexplicable’, businessman says

Joseph Murphy jnr issues statement after tribunal said findings against him were ‘unlawful’

Mr Justice Feargus Flood, was a sitting judge of the High Court with many years experience not just as a judge but also as a barrister. Photograph: Peter Thursfield

Mr Justice Feargus Flood, was a sitting judge of the High Court with many years experience not just as a judge but also as a barrister. Photograph: Peter Thursfield

 

The suppression by the Planning Tribunal of material relevant to the corruption allegations made against him by the late James Gogarty remains “inexplicable”, the businessman Joseph Murphy jnr has said.

Confidential material he has been given by the tribunal since it made adverse findings against him would have “destroyed” Mr Gogarty’s credibility if it had been given to him at the time, Mr Murphy said.

The businessman issued a statement on Friday. This followed a statement made in the High Court on Thursday on behalf of the tribunal in which it said that the 2002 findings made against Mr Murphy, his late father, Joseph Murphy, and others associated with the Murphy group, were “unlawful” and were being quashed. A copy of the statement is being sent to Dáil Éireann.

The principal reason for the decision of the tribunal to acquiesce in the quashing of the findings was that it had failed to share material with the Murphy interests that was of “obvious” relevance to the issue of Mr Gogarty’s credibility.

Mr Gogarty was the sole witness for the corruption allegations against the Murphy interests in relation to alleged bribes to former government minister Ray Burke and Dublin council official the late George Redmond. The tribunal chose to believe Mr Gogarty.

Suppressed

“Suppressed information” which has since been disclosed to Mr Murphy shows that Mr Gogarty had made a range of allegations against other people also, though Mr Murphy did not know this at the time.

“Among the twenty or so persons who were targets of Mr Gogarty’s vitriolic and false accusations” were “a taoiseach, a minister for justice, a judge of the Supreme Court, and many other people of greater and lesser prominence in public life,” Mr Murphy said. He did not disclose names.

He said that the chairman of the planning tribunal at the time, Mr Justice Feargus Flood, was a sitting judge of the High Court with many years experience not just as a judge but also as a barrister. He had the advice and assistance of a large team of experienced counsel and solicitors.

The decision “to supress this relevant information was, and is, inexplicable and has given rise to many dire consequences,” Mr Murphy said.

The tribunal, as part of its response to the case taken by Mr Murphy against it, and which now has been settled, said that Mr Justice Flood took the decision as to which documents held by the tribunal should be circulated to parties such as Mr Murphy.

Mr Gogarty, Mr Murphy said, was “cosseted by the tribunal to an extraordinary degree.” He was privileged by a private visit to his home by Mr Justice Flood, by frequent personal contact by counsel for the tribunal, and was afforded 24-hour Garda protection.

Before the tribunal was established Mr Gogarty [a former employee of the Murphy group] said directly to Mr Murphy that he would “destroy” him. “This was no idle threat as subsequent events proved.”

Financial loss

The Murphy group suffered great financial loss and Joseph Murphy Structural Engineering, a thriving company which employed at least 100 people, was closed.

“Most painful and grievous of all was the reputational damage inflicted on me and my late father and other persons associated with us. This was vile, extensive and lasting; it permeated into every aspect of our personal and business lives and even some 16 years later its poison still lingers.”

Mr Murphy said that now we have reached the end of the “sorry saga”.

He quoted the late Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, who in a Supreme Court ruling which involved a review of the Murphy findings by the tribunal said: “It is salutary to remember that the concealed materials would have never come to light in this case had the appellants not taken the proceedings. It is chilling to reflect that a poorer person, treated in the same fashion by the tribunal, could not have afforded to seek his vindication.”

Mr Justice Hardiman said also referred to the case of the Guilford Four in that judgment, Mr Murphy pointed out. The judge said the police involved had evidence providing an alibi for one of the four “but had become so convinced of their guilt that they decided the alibi could not be reliable and concealed it.”

Multiple High and Supreme Court actions had to be taken to coerce the tribunal into revealing the existence of critical information about his case, Mr Murphy said, and the high costs of these actions will now be “an addition to the enormous public expenditure associated with the operation of this tribunal.”

Mr Murphy said that, for the record, “I now publicly state that I never in my life met with Mr Ray Burke and met only casually with the late Mr George Redmond for the first time at the tribunal hearings.”