Michael Smurfit unable to give evidence due to hospital stay, court hears

Ann O'Loughlin

Millionaire businessman Dr Michael Smurfit who was issued with a subpoena to attend the High Court to give evidence in a case brought by a former K Club employee is in hospital, the High court heard today.

The 82-year old businessman who had a hip operation and suffered a complication is in hospital in Monte Carlo, Mr Justice Anthony Barr was told.

It was the sixth day of the action taken by former K Club catering manager Peter Curran who has sued Dr Smurfit along with the exclusive five star K Club resort and a resort Superintendent, Gerry Byrne.

Peter Curran, Cahirciveen, Co Kerry has claimed on May 7, 2011 his way was blocked in the toilets at Punchestown Races and Mr Gerry Byrne allegedly said: "Dr Smurfit has not forgotten the statements about him and the call girls. Dr Smurfit knows where to find you and this is not over."

The defendants have denied all claims.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Anthony Barr had granted permission for a subpoena to be served at the offices of Dr Smurfit’s solicitors and his Monaco address requiring the millionaire businessman to attend the court and give evidence.

At the outset of the case today, Rossa Fanning SC told the court Dr Smurfit had a hip operation on Monday and suffered a complication with a fractured femur which necessitated a further operation.

Counsel said Dr Smurfit is currently in hospital in Monte Carlo and it might be the case that his evidence would be taken by video link

Mr Justice Anthony Barr pointed out the court is going to sit for four days next week on this case and Mr Curran’s presentation of his case may go into October when the next court term starts after the summer vacation.

In those circumstances, the judge said Dr Smurfit May have adequate time to recuperate.

Mr Curran was catering manager at the K Club between September 1997 and October 1998 when he claims he was forced to leave and later brought an unfair dismissal case which was settled in March 1999.

Mr Curran later brought High Court proceedings claiming alleged breach to his constitutional right to his good name and to earn a livelihood During the run up to that case in replies to written questions and particulars, relating to alleged financial irregularities he had allegedly uncovered at the K Club, Mr Curran made reference to call girls, sometimes sourced abroad, were given free use of the hotel facilities at the K Club.

Those High Court proceedings were settled in 2008 and it is claimed it was an implied term of the agreement Mr Curran would not be threatened, harassed or intimidated in any manner.

The case before Mr Justice Anthony Barr continues next week.

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