Morris tribunal to use video link


The Morris Tribunal will tomorrow make legal history when it takes evidence from the other side of the world via a satellite link.

It is believed to be the fist time that state-of-the-art video technology has been used by a witness at such a judicial inquiry.

Mary Schollum, a consultant to the New Zealand Police force, will testify to the garda corruption inquiry from Wellington on best practice techniques for police interrogation.

The live link-up required the installation of new telecommunications equipment and technology at the Tribunal's courtroom at Clonskeagh in Dublin.

It is believed the satellite connection, which has to be routed through a hub in France to meet with the signal at New Zealand's police headquarters, will cost the Irish taxpayer several thousand euro.

Eircom engineers fitted special lines into the tribunal's base last week and cabling was installed to connect monitors so the chairman, Mr Justice Frederick Morris, barristers, journalists and the public can see the witness on screens.

Another company, Pearl Communications, who is already contracted by the inquiry to look after its sophisticated system of microphones and speakers, will take control of the audio technology needed for the appearance.

It is believed it will be the first time a witness has given evidence and been cross-examined at a judicial tribunal of inquiry in the Republic through a live satellite link-up.

The Mahon Tribunal investigating planning decisions and payments to politicians considered using the technology for a witness living in the Channel Islands in 1999.

However, the then Flood Tribunal travelled to Guernsey to hear the evidence rather than cross-examine the witness by video.

The courts have taken evidence from abroad using similar technology before. Earlier this year the Employment Appeals Tribunal heard evidence for the first time from Australia through a satellite connection.