Pressure mounts on Hogan over legal battle with Childers

A number of MEPs who have been supportive of Mr Hogan question his decision to engage in legal correspondence

Pressure has increased on Phil Hogan ahead of his hearing at the European Parliament next Thursday following confirmation that Ireland's nominee as EU commissioner threatened Independent MEP Nessa Childers with legal action.

While a spokesman for Phil Hogan said the commissioner-designate had “no option” but to deal with Ms Childers’s allegations through the legal system, a number of MEPs who have been supportive of Mr Hogan yesterday privately questioned his decision to engage in legal correspondence.

His move is likely to irk some MEPs who see it as an attempt to coerce members of the European Parliament.

Ms Childers has formally complained to the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee, asking the chairman to “reassure the Members of the European Parliament that they can discharge their duties of scrutiny without hindrance or fear of legal retaliation”.


Committee backing

Mr Hogan, who has been meeting officials and MEPs in Brussels since his nomination as commissioner by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, is understood to have won the broad backing of the European Parliament’s agriculture committee. But his increasingly hostile battle with Nessa Childers could present a setback to his candidacy.

The dispute between Ms Childers and Mr Hogan centres around Ms Childers’s letter to MEPs earlier this month, which alleges that Mr Hogan submitted a request to Kilkenny County Council to prevent a Traveller family being provided with social housing. Mr Hogan denies this allegation.

While Ms Childers believes her intervention is covered by parliamentary privilege, this is disputed by Mr Hogan’s legal team. A European Parliament spokesman said yesterday that members had parliamentary immunity in the exercise of their duties as MEPs.

Correspondence shows Mr Hogan’s solicitors, Mason Hayes & Curran, have sent three letters to Ms Childers this month, the most recent of which urges her to withdraw her allegations within five days or face legal proceedings.

Yesterday Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy, a member of the committee that will question Mr Hogan, called on the Taoiseach to withdraw Mr Hogan’s nomination as commissioner.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent