Witness rejects claim that he gave Redmond £25,000

 

An allegation that Mr James Gogarty gave the then assistant Dublin city and county manager, Mr George Redmond, £25,000 in cash in the lobby of the Clontarf Castle Hotel was rejected by Mr Gogarty at the Flood tribunal yesterday.

Under cross-examination from Mr Garrett Cooney SC, Mr Gogarty said the allegation, printed in the Sunday Tribune in January 1998, was a lie.

He rejected suggestions that he had authorised the article and that it showed he had given separate, different versions of events to the newspaper and the tribunal.

Claiming that he was reading the article for the first time, Mr Gogarty said that if his solicitors, Donnelly Neary and Donnelly of Newry, had provided information for the article to its author, Maeve Sheehan, then they had done so without his authority.

Mr Gogarty had previously given evidence that Mr Redmond had requested 10 per cent of all savings on service charges attached to planning permissions, where the savings were as a result of advice provided by him.

Earlier Mr Cooney had told Mr Justice Flood that he felt the affair would show that there were significant contradictions in versions of events provided by Mr Gogarty.

"The reality is this firm of solicitors in Newry weren't just providing legal services to Mr Gogarty, they were also providing services of a public relations sort in the sense that they were, on his specific instructions, negotiating with two newspapers, the Sunday Times and the Sunday Business Post. They were also providing information at his behest to journalists employed by those news papers," he said.

While Mr Gogarty gave evidence that he ceased to speak to Ms Sheehan before she prepared the article and refused to give her any further information, Mr Cooney pointed out that she had been in contact with Donnelly Neary and Donnelly before the publication of her article.

Mr Cooney added that the fundamental point was that there were contradictions between what was published in these articles and what was sworn to by Mr Gogarty in the tribunal.

However, Mr Gogarty said he "stopped talking to Maeve Sheehan and I told her that I would never talk to her again and Mr Neary had that instruction as well".

He added that he believed now that the firm actually had spoken to Ms Sheehan but he said that it was not on his instructions.

Outlining the history of his contact, Mr Gogarty said he had first spoken to Ms Sheehan when she worked for the Sunday Times when his then solicitor, Mr Neary, telephoned on his behalf in late 1995. He had been seeking publicity in his attempt to get "a rational explanation" as to why Mr Murphy jnr was not charged with intimidation.

Mr Cooney referred to correspondence between the Sunday Times and Mr Gogarty in which the newspaper was said to have given a guarantee that its reporters would not publish or speak about the matters to other parties without Mr Gogarty's consent.

Counsel also referred to a letter to the Sunday Times seeking indemnity from prosecution for Mr Gogarty and his solicitor.

When he was asked if he had also sought protection to be provided by the newspaper he replied: "That was my understanding. They offered it. They were considering it."

But negotiations with the Sunday Times broke down because he felt he had been talking confidentially and he learnt Ms Sheehan had been talking to Mr Tommy Broughan TD about his case.

Mr Gogarty said he decided he would not talk to Ms Sheehan again. He felt she had breached his confidence and misquoted him. They had been talking confidentially and she had not his authority to discuss his affairs.

Mr Cooney then said there was a letter dated October 31st, 1997, in which Ms Sheehan had apologised.

In a further letter in January 1998 Ms Sheehan wrote to Mr Gogarty again. By this time she was working for the Sunday Tribune. "I have only a brief recollection. I wasn't interested in her. She was pestering the house and I had no need to talk to her. I didn't want to talk to her so I didn't bother my head with her."

Mr Cooney asked if Mr Gogarty was aware that two days later Ms Sheehan had spoken to Donnelly Neary and Donnelly and he re plied that he had not known at the time. His solicitor had never drawn his attention to the article and he had not read it until yesterday.

Mr Cooney asked him to read the first two paragraphs of the article in which it was stated that he had made a payment of £25,000 to "an official". Mr Gogarty snorted many times as he read the article, remarking: "Well, of course, I see a lie there first of all".

He acknowledged that the official referred to was Mr Redmond who had called to his home to discuss allegations of corruption but who had left again without having met Mr Gogarty.

But in relation to the payment of £25,000 he said: "I don't know where she got that."