Colm Keaveney says O’Brien speech was his alone

FF TD says he was not influenced by third party in speech about businessman

Colm Keaveney:   The speech “was entirely composed by myself”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Colm Keaveney: The speech “was entirely composed by myself”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Colm Keaveney, the Fianna Fáil politician named in court by lawyers for Denis O’Brien who claim there is an unlawful conspiracy against the businessman, says that comments he made about Mr O’Brien in the Dáil last June were authored entirely by himself.

“I wish to state categorically that the speech I delivered in the Dáil was entirely composed by myself . . . No third party influenced or contributed to, the contents of that speech in any way, shape or form,” he said.

Several versions of a draft speech for Mr Keaveney are among over 80 files contained on the computer memory stick that is at the centre of Mr O’Brien’s legal moves against a Dublin-based public relations firm, Red Flag, which is chaired by former Independent News and Media (INM) chairman, Gavin O’Reilly, and run by a former Independent director, Karl Brophy.

The company, the two men and three other employees of Red Flag are defendants in the action taken by Mr O’Brien, who now controls INM. Mr O’Brien says he hired private investigators, who have not yet been identified in his legal action, to probe what he claims is a conspiracy against him and that, subsequent to this, he says he received the memory stick anonymously.

Red Flag acknowledge the files on the stick are theirs but say they do not know how Mr O’Brien obtained them, which was, he says, a few days before he initiated his legal action on October 13th.

Flotation

SiteservDigicel

The Irish Times understands that Hollingsworth was sent the files by Red Flag via Dropbox, a commonly used online file-sharing service, after he approached the company last summer. He told them he was researching Denis O’Brien for an article for The Sunday Times magazine and that he wanted background information.

Yesterday, the newspaper said it had not commissioned any such work from Hollingsworth, although it acknowledged using him in the past.

There was no response yesterday to efforts to contact Hollingsworth. The Sunday Times reported that Hollingsworth claimed his computer had been hacked two weeks ago and that he was locked out of his computer on the evening of Friday, October 9th. He is considering reporting the incident to the police.

Hacking

Hollingsworth, the author of several books featuring British spies, Russian oligarchs and public relations people, began approaching people in Ireland last July saying, according to them, that he was researching whistleblowers and the businessman.

“He said he was writing an article on Denis O’Brien,” according to one of those approached, Ann-Marie McNally, parliamentary assistant to Catherine Murphy, the TD who raised Dáil questions about Mr O’Brien and Siteserv, one of Mr O’Brien’s companies.

“I found it difficult to get him off the phone. His sole interest seemed to be to get our sources for Catherine’s Siteserv speech [in the Dáil]. He knew I was the lead researcher [for the speech].”

The Keaveney speech on the memory stick, identified by Mr O’Brien’s lawyers as central to their concerns, is an edited version of the speech he gave in the Dáil, containing comments and amendments, understood to have been made by Mr Brophy and also by Seamus Conboy, Red Flag’s director of client campaigns, an acquaintance of Mr Keaveney to whom he sent his speech prior to delivering it on June 9th.

The edits and suggestions were not apparently taken up by Mr Keaveney, who is Fianna Fáil spokesman on mental health, and so his comments, highly critical of Mr O’Brien and made in the Dáil, under privilege, were as he wrote them.

The versions on the memory stick were never, in fact, delivered.