Williams tells Charleton tribunal he was not part of McCabe smear campaign

Crime journalist says he was ‘eviscerated’ on social media and by colleagues over the issue

Paul Williams said he was never negatively briefed about Sgt Maurice McCabe by Supt Dave Taylor or by former commissioners Martin Callinan or Nóirín O’Sullivan. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Paul Williams said he was never negatively briefed about Sgt Maurice McCabe by Supt Dave Taylor or by former commissioners Martin Callinan or Nóirín O’Sullivan. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The crime journalist Paul Williams has said he was never part of any smear campaign against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Giving evidence to the Charleton Tribunal, Mr Williams said he had been “eviscerated” on social media and by colleagues over the issue.

He said it was not the case, as claimed by the former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor that he, Supt Taylor, had spoken to Mr Williams as early as mid-2013 as part of the alleged smear campaign.

Supt Taylor’s claim in a protected disclosure that he was ordered in 2013 to conduct a smear campaign is the main issue being investigated by the tribunal. Supt Taylor has named 11 journalists, including Mr Williams, as people he spoke to as part of the alleged campaign.

Mr Williams said he travelled to meet Ms D, a woman who made an historical claim of child sex abuse against Sgt McCabe in 2006, after he had been contacted by the woman’s father in March 2014.

Mr Williams said he was contacted in the wake of a call from Detective Supt John O’Reilly, who told him the family of Ms D wanted to speak to him. After that he got the call from Mr D.

He said until he met with the family he had not known about the allegation of assault, or that it was investigated by the gardaí, or that the Director of Public Prosecutions had ruled that no charges should be brought.

He told John Ferry BL, for Supt Taylor, that it was not the case, as claimed by the superintendent, that he called him on the day from the Ms D house and said: “Guess where I am?”

He said that in the wake of the visit he spoke with Supt Taylor to check what he had been told and that this was the first time he spoke to Supt Taylor about the Ms D allegation.

An article based on the interview but not naming Ms D or Sgt McCabe was published by the Irish Independent in April 2014. The article did not identify the woman or the sergeant and was focused on Ms D’s complaint that the assault was not properly investigated because the alleged assailant was a Garda.

The claim was later investigated by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, which found that the investigation was properly conducted.

Mr Williams told Diarmuid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, that he did not seek a comment from Sgt McCabe as Sgt McCabe was not being named in the article.

Mr Williams said he was never negatively briefed about Sgt McCabe by Supt Taylor or by former commissioners Martin Callinan or Nóirín O’Sullivan. “I have nothing to hide in relation to these people.”

All three have given waivers to the tribunal stipulating that any journalists who feel they should not disclose confidential communications relevant to the tribunal’s terms of reference, are free to do so insofar as they are concerned.

Supt Taylor has said he briefed Mr Williams in 2013 about the Ms D allegation but did not suggest in 2014 that Mr Williams visit the woman’s home or give Mr Williams the woman’s address.

Mr Williams said that he had “no doubt in my mind” that he had not spoken to Supt Taylor about Ms D prior to his visit to her home. “I barely knew Dave Taylor at the time.”

Mr Williams is continuing to give evidence.