Leaking of tribunal files 'irresponsible'

 

MEDIA LEAKS:THE “SIGNIFICANT leaking” of tribunal information by Sarah Carey, a former employee of Denis O’Brien, was “irresponsible” and “not remotely justified”, the Moriarty tribunal has found.

The report also said the leak to the media in relation to political contributions made by Mr O’Brien’s companies caused “distress, inconvenience and annoyance to a large number of persons”.

Ms Carey joined Esat Telecom as marketing co-ordinator in January, 1995, shortly after leaving college. She reported directly to Mr O’Brien on matters including media and publicity aspects of his bid for a mobile phone licence, the report said.

And, as an active member of Fine Gael, she helped Mr O’Brien raise his profile with the party.

During its investigations, documentation was passed to Ms Carey by the tribunal concerning political payments by Esat Digifone, Esat Telecom and Mr O’Brien. “These found their way into a Sunday Tribunearticle,” the report said.

As a result, the tribunal received “considerable criticism” and there were suggestions the material had been disclosed by the tribunal in advance of its hearings.

The leak had caused “a considerable amount of needless work” for the tribunal, which had received “abrasive correspondence from the Progressive Democrats”.

When the tribunal asked Ms Carey if she had leaked the documents, she initially denied it.

But in evidence she later admitted that she had and said that she was sorry.

She had told the tribunal she leaked the documents because there had been “excessive emphasis” on Mr O’Brien’s donations to Fine Gael, while the documentation showed he also made donations to Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats.

The tribunal “deplored” the incidence of leaking as one of the “insidious and baleful devices used to delay and distract its proper workings and to seek to erode public confidence in its overall function”, the report said.

It said Ms Carey, who is now an Irish Timescolumnist, was entitled to some credit for apologising in public session and for being among the “tiny minority of persons to admit and acknowledge her conduct in this regard”.

“However, what she did was irresponsible, in flagrant breach of the course of dealings that had been clearly conveyed to her, and was not remotely justified by the proffered explanation that she provided,” the report said.

“It also predictably occasioned a considerable measure of distress, inconvenience and annoyance to a large number of persons.”

Speaking to The Irish Timesyesterday, Ms Carey said she did not regret leaking the information because she thought it was in the public interest.

However, Ms Carey said she did regret denying the leak originally to the tribunal.