Official who shredded key papers to explain decision

Official who shredded key papers to explain decision
Kevin O'Connell

The official whose decision to shred files contributed to the collapse of the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick is reportedly willing to appear before an Oireachtas committee over the matter.

Members of the Oireachtas committee on business, enterprise, and innovation told the Irish Examiner they are considering holding a meeting with Kevin O’Connell after he wrote a 10-page explanation to the group.

The letter from Mr O’Connell, a former legal adviser to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), was sent to the committee before its planned meeting with ODCE chief Ian Drennan next week.

It will be the first time in his seven-year term that Mr Drennan has appeared before an Oireachtas hearing.

Mr O’Connell shot to prominence in 2015 when his actions during the ODCE investigation were criticised by a trial judge.

Among other matters, Judge John Aylmer said he had concerns over the fact Mr O’Connell shredded a number of relevant files while allegedly in “a panic” during the first trial in 2015.

The trial’s jury was subsequently discharged, with a retrial in 2017 also running aground over serious concerns related to the handling of the investigation by the ODCE.

In a lengthy private letter to the Oireachtas committee this week, it is understood Mr O’Connell laid out in detail his desire to be given an opportunity to explain what happened.

He said the explanation is needed due to discussions by the committee on the ODCE’s work and other matters.

The letter’s details cannot be outlined in full as they remain private and, as such, do not have Oireachtas privilege until they are either published by the committee or read into the committee’s official record.

However, it is understood while a number of committee members were surprised to receive the correspondence, they are willing to organise a meeting in the coming days with Mr O’Connell.

The decision by Mr O’Connell is likely to put focus on the TDs’ meeting with Mr Drennan next week.

The Anglo Irish trial led to significant political fallout, with ODCE changes demanded.

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