Redmond ruling opens up challenges to tribunal findings

Tribunal ran from 1997 to 2012 and is expected to cost at least €170m

George Redmond outside the planning tribunal in Dublin Castle in 1999.

George Redmond outside the planning tribunal in Dublin Castle in 1999.

 

The planning tribunal has withdrawn its report on George Redmond after the former assistant Dublin city and county manager won his case overturning corruption findings made by the inquiry a decade ago.

The tribunal took down the third interim report, which deals with payments by developers to Mr Redmond, from its website and hard copies will be removed from public libraries.

A spokesman said a redacted version of the report would be put back up on the website.

The move in effect undoes years of investigative work and public hearings by the tribunal into the affairs of Mr Redmond, who received regular payments from developers during his career but always denied corruption. It also opens the way for other witnesses before the tribunal to seek to have adverse findings against them quashed.

The tribunal ran from 1997 to 2012 and is expected to cost at least €170 million.

The agreement by the tribunal to withdraw all adverse findings against Mr Redmond arises from a settlement in the High Court yesterday of his long-running action against the inquiry. He was awarded his costs, which are estimated to run into several million euro.

‘Huge effect’

Central to his case was a 2010 finding by the Supreme Court in proceedings taken by millionaire businessman Joseph Murphy jnr over the tribunal’s refusal to pay his legal costs. It emerged in this case that the tribunal edited from statements specific allegations made by the late James Gogarty, the main whistleblower in its early phases of investigation.

The court found Mr Gogarty had alleged “well-known persons in professional circles” paid sums of money to former minister Ray Burke and another politician in connection with a site but that there was “absolutely no reason” to believe the allegations had any truth.

Mr Murphy’s lawyers argued this was relevant to the credibility of Mr Gogarty. The tribunal withheld this from Mr Murphy knowing it was “hampering” his defence, the court found.

Mr Murphy and a fellow executive, Frank Reynolds, won their case, got their costs and had the finding of hindering and obstructing the inquiry set aside. They did not seek to challenge a separate finding by the tribunal that they made a corrupt payment to Burke.

As Mr Redmond has relied on their case to win his own proceedings, the way appears clear for them, and possibly others, to seek to have their own corruption findings overturned.

Following the Murphy judgment, the tribunal has now begun paying the legal costs of some of those who were found to be involved in corruption.

Adverse findings

Oliver Barry

Mr Redmond says he never solicited payments from developers for advice given when he was the leading planning official in Co Dublin in the 1980s.

In 1999, when returning from the Isle of Man, Criminal Assets Bureau detectives found he was carrying a bag containing more than IR£300,000 in cash and cheques. He said the money came from “nixers” and consultancy work.