Red Flag to ask court for INM affidavit

PR firm embroiled in case with Denis O’Brien wants access to details of alleged data breach

The PR firm embroiled in a long-running court battle with businessman Denis O'Brien will ask the High Court for access to the corporate watchdog's affidavit alleging a massive data breach at Independent News & Media.

Red Flag Consulting, the firm founded by former INM executive Karl Brophy, said it will make an application to the court seeking the sworn statement of the Director of Corporate Enforcement Ian Drennan on the same day he asks a High Court judge to appoint inspectors to investigate corporate governance issues at the media company.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement is scheduled to apply to the court on April 16th seeking the appointment of the inspectors.

Legal sources have said that the ODCE has indicated that it will not object to Red Flag’s application to the court seeking the release of any information contained in the affidavit relating to the firm or its executives.


Red Flag must notify the ODCE and INM, the two parties at the centre of the case, if it intends to seek Mr Drennan’s affidavit, which runs to more than 200 pages.

Leaked details of Mr Drennan's affidavit show the corporate watchdog will allege in court that after a suspected data breach at INM, information relating to at least 19 individuals, including Mr Brophy and another Red Flag employee Mandy Scott, were "interrogated" by at least six external companies.

The Sunday Times and INM title, the Sunday Independent, have reported that an Isle of Man company controlled by Denis O'Brien, INM's largest shareholder, paid the bill for IT firm Trusted Data Solutions, which had access to the media company's computer network in October 2014 without the board's knowledge.

INM's former chairman Leslie Buckley, a long-time associate of Mr O'Brien's, directed the interrogation of the data, Mr Drennan reportedly claims in his affidavit.

It has been reported that Mr Drennan's sworn statement also refers to the legal action taken by Mr O'Brien in October 2015. In that case, the businessman alleges that Red Flag was engaged in a conspiracy to damage him in the run-up to a planned flotation of Digicel, his telecoms company.

Red Flag denies the claims and is vigorously defending the action.

The firm had intended to seek the contents of the affidavit when their case with Mr O’Brien was due to return to court next Tuesday but is unlikely to be granted access to them prior to Mr Drennan’s application six days later.

The ODCE is restrained under the confidentiality obligations of the 2014 Companies Act to release any details of legal proceedings to any third party without the permission of the High Court.

Red Flag is concerned that personal data relating to Mr Brophy and Ms Scott, who was personal assistant to its chairman Gavin O’Reilly when he was chief executive of INM, may have been compromised in the alleged breach.

The PR firm believes that the suspected breach may be significant in future applications to discover information in the case with Mr O’Brien and in light of past statements made by the businessman in the action.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times