Dentist used secret camera to spy on rival colleague, court told

Michael Maguire and James Hiney both operate from a building in Mullingar they co-own

 

A dentist has claimed before the High Court he and his staff were put under surveillance by security cameras allegedly installed secretly by another dentist.

Michael Maguire has made the allegation against James Hiney.

Both men operate separate dental practices out of a building co-owned by them at Market Point, Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Mr Maguire claims the two had run their businesses at the premises successfully for some years but the relationship between them recently decayed to the point the environment between them is “toxic”.

In a sworn statement, Mr Maguire said, as the relationship unravelled, there were a host of issues between the two, ranging from petty complaints to serious allegations of criminal behaviour.

He said Mr Hiney has made allegations against him, including of assault, defamation, harassment, vandalism and the withholding of information from insurers about the building.

Mr Maguire said he does not accept those allegations and negotiations aimed at resolving the dispute have not succeeded.

As a result of a number of recent alleged events, Mr Maguire has brought proceedings seeking various orders against Mr Hiney, including one preventing Mr Hiney monitoring or carrying out surveillance of Mr Maguire’s employees.

He also wants orders that his patients are not solicited, requiring any proposed construction works at the premises be halted and for data, including patient lists, to be returned to him. He also wants damages.

On Tuesday, Ms Justice Caroline Costello granted an ex parte application (one side only represented) by Stephen Byrne BL, for Mr Maguire, for permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on Mr Hiney.

Mr Byrne said there were a number of matters of serious and immediate concern to his client.

The first was related to the installation of security cameras in the building by Mr Hiney, which counsel said were put in without Mr Maguire’s consent.

Counsel said members of Mr Maguire’s staff had last April noticed a small cavity in the false ceiling above the reception area. The hole had a secret camera, wiring and a microphone.

This had been reported to gardaí, he said.

Counsel said activities of Mr Maguire’s staff and patients, personal files and patient data were captured by the camera.

Counsel said Mr Hiney’s solicitor had said in correspondence the camera was installed on Garda advice over an alleged theft of money from the premises and that it was focused on Mr Hiney’s staff.

This is not accepted by Mr Maguire, counsel said.

A report by a specialist firm on the matter featured an image from the camera showing Mr Maguire’s staff working at their part of the reception desk, he said.

Mr Maguire also says the defendant has engaged in a marketing campaign, including sending text messages, in an effort to solicit the plaintiff’s patients. Among those patients who received messages from Mr Hiney’s business was Mr Maguire’s wife, counsel said.

His client is concerned his patients’ details were obtained from a backup computer server that contained records which the defendant removed from the shared premises and has not returned, counsel said.

Mr Maguire’s other concern was that Mr Hiney has engaged to people to commence works on the exterior of the premises in early July, he said.

The matter will return before the court later this week.