Gilligan's solicitor tells court of concern over fees


MR John Gilligan's solicitor fears he might be prosecuted at a later date if it is shown the money used to pay his fees is in some way tainted, the High Court was told yesterday.

Mr Paul McNally, a Dublin solicitor, is acting for Mr Gilligan. His lawyers are challenging the constitutionality of the Proceedings of Crime Act 1996. That statute set up the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Mr Gilligan is at present on remand in an English prison on drug-trafficking charges.

Mr Brian Langwallner, counsel for Mr Gilligan, failed in his application to Ms Justice McGuinness for a one-day adjournment to allow him deal with what he referred to as "grave concerns".

The judge also refused Mr Langwallner leave to discuss the matter in camera, saying she had no jurisdiction to make such an order.

Mr Gilligan is taking the action against the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB); Mr Barry Galvin, Inspector of Taxes and Chief Legal Officer, CAB; Mr Frank Lanigan, the Revenue Sheriff of Co Kildare; the Revenue Commissioners and the Attorney General.

Both of Mr Langwallner's applications for the adjournment and a hearing in camera were opposed by Mr Frank Clarke SC for the Criminal Assets Bureau and Mr Donal O'Donnell SC for Ireland and the Attorney General. They both feared that hearing of the action, which was given special priority by the president of the High Court, could end up being adjourned for a month.

Later Mr Langwallner, who is instructed by Mr Paul McNally, told the court what their "grave concerns" were and said they might necessitate their withdrawal from the case at a later date.

They were, he said, concerned that monies accepted as fees from Mr Gilligan could six to 12 months down the line be subsequently proved in some respect to be tainted under what he described as the draconian Proceeds of Crime Act 1996.

Mr Langwallner said it was an act of remarkable courage on his solicitor's part and in the highest interest of the legal profession and the efficacy of the judicial process that he (the solicitor) contemplated proceeding with the case.

Ms Justice McGuinness said she was grateful to Mr Langwallner and his solicitor that they had decided to continue acting for Mr Gilligan in the case. The question as to whether a piece of legislation in part or in whole was unconstitutional must always be a matter of grave importance, she said.

She approved the decision taken by Mr Langwallner and his solicitor and said that, while she could not forecast what would happen in the future, the best way was to proceed with the opening of the case.

Mr O'Donnell said the Attorney General did not construe the Act in such a way as to prevent legitimate legal representation.

The case continues today.