Pat Hickey taken into police custody over Olympic tickets row

Shane Ross says senior counsel or judge to be appointed to inquiry into saga today

Minister for Sport Shane Ross has returned from the Rio Olympics has said he will appoint either a senior counsel or a member of the judiciary to lead an independent investigation into the Rio ticket controversy.

 

Pat Hickey, who has stepped aside as Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president temporarily, was taken into police custody in Brazil last night to give a statement in response to charges of ticket touting at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Mr Hickey (71) was yesterday released from a Rio hospital where he was taken after falling ill following his arrest at a hotel in the city on Wednesday. After giving a statement, he was expected to be transferred to a police facility in the north of the city where he would be processed and spend the night.

An OCI statement released after Mr Hickey left the hospital said: “The Olympic Council of Ireland can confirm that Pat Hickey has been discharged from hospital and has been accompanied to a police station to complete a deposition.”

Police in Brazil say they have gathered evidence that Mr Hickey was involved in a touting operation with British company THG Sports, whose Dublin finance director Kevin Mallon was arrested in Rio on August 5th in possession of 823 tickets said to have been earmarked for the OCI.

Ticket touting

Mr Hickey is accused of intending to supply tickets for ticket touting, diverting tickets from legitimate use and false marketing. The Brazilian police investigation is now focusing on the content of Mr Hickey’s laptops and phones seized during his arrest. Given his age and recent health problems, if transferred to a remand jail, Mr Hickey will likely be held in a specialised unit rather than in with the general population.

Minister for Sport Shane Ross yesterday said a legal figure would be appointed to conduct an independent inquiry. Mr Ross, who returned to Dublin early from Rio, said the terms of reference would be decided at a meeting with Attorney General Máire Whelan later.

He confirmed there would be no limits placed on the inquiry and that the handling of tickets for the 2012 London Games could be part of it. Mr Ross said he “would be amazed” if the OCI did not co-operate with the inquiry. “It would be extraordinary.”

He said a number of questions remained unanswered, including why Pro10 Sports was appointed as the OCI’s authorised ticket seller for the games despite having no presence in the city.

Ticket reseller

Authorities in Brazil say the OCI nominated THG last year to act as its authorised ticket reseller, but the Rio organisers rejected this. The authorities claim Pro10 effectively acted as “a bridge” to get tickets from the OCI to THG.

Mr Hickey, THG, Pro10 and Mr Mallon have denied having a role in any impropriety. A spokesman for the International Olympic Committee said “the presumption of innocence prevails” in his case.