Denis O’Brien ‘profiler’ worked for private investigation firm
Mark Hollingsworth obtained dossier at heart of businessman’s legal action
Mark Hollingsworth told people he interviewed that he was writing an article about Denis O’Brien. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Mark Hollingsworth: told people he interviewed that he was writing an article about Denis O’Brien. Photograph: Andrew Wiard
Mark Hollingsworth, the only person known to have obtained the dossier of documents at the heart of Denis O’Brien’s legal action against Dublin PR firm Red Flag, did so while he was working with a London-based private intelligence-gathering company.
In the summer and early autumn of 2015, Mr Hollingsworth interviewed a number of politicians, political advisers and journalists in Dublin, telling them all that he was writing an article about Mr O’Brien for the Sunday Times.
However, The Irish Times has established that, at this time, Mr Hollingsworth was working in concert with the business intelligence company Alaco, with whom he has had a long-standing relationship.
None of the people he interviewed, by telephone and email during the summer of 2015, and in person when in Dublin on September 7th and 8th, including Catherine Murphy TD inside Leinster House, knew of these links.
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Everyone Mr Hollingsworth contacted in Ireland last year became suspicious due to his persistent efforts to identify sources of leaks about Mr O’Brien and his banking arrangements with IBRC, while purportedly writing a profile on him.
However, as a result of Mr Hollingsworth’s inquiries, Red Flag shared with him a dossier it had assembled, containing 339 files, almost all of them previously published articles about Mr O’Brien, as well as several biographical accounts of Mr O’Brien’s life and the adverse comments made about him by the Moriarty tribunal. The dossier also included a copy of a draft speech similar to one made in the Dáil by former Fianna Fáil TD Colm Keaveney.
Mr Hollingsworth has told several people that after he got the dossier, he gave it to Alaco, although it is unclear whether he did so directly or through an intermediary, due to the varying accounts he has offered.
Earlier this month, The Irish Times submitted a series of detailed questions to Alaco asking them about their relationship with Mr Hollingsworth and their interest in Mr O’Brien. To date, no response has been received.
He was, he said in his affidavit, “shocked” and described the contents of the USB stick as “simply extraordinary”, prompting his legal action against Red Flag.
In the High Court this week, Mr O’Brien’s request for a discovery order against Red Flag was adjourned. Next week, the court will hear an application from him for discovery against Dropbox, the service through which Red Flag gave Mr Hollingsworth access to the dossier.