Whistleblower smear Garda avoids most of legal bill

Whistleblower smear Garda avoids most of legal bill
David Taylor

The former Garda press officer who helped run a smear campaign against whistleblower, Maurice McCabe, and then lied to the Disclosures Tribunal about the nature of his involvement is to get the bulk of his legal costs.

David Taylor, who retired last year, will get 70% of his costs which include fees for a junior and two senior counsel, a full-time solicitor, an occasional second solicitor and a law firm that "committed an enormous amount of time and resources" to representing him.

That's despite severe criticisms of him by tribunal chairman, Peter Charleton, who found that he had lied to the tribunal directly and by omission and was motivated by bitterness and a wish to deflect from a criminal investigation against him.

In applying for full costs, Mr Taylor's solicitors acknowledged the criticisms and said: "The adverse findings made against our client are deeply regretted."

But they said that without his original disclosures about the smear campaign, both directly to Sgt McCabe and in a protected disclosure, the tribunal would not have taken place and the smear campaign would not have been revealed.

"While Superintendent Taylor was a witness who lacked credibility, it remains the case that but for his decision to speak directly to Sgt McCabe and make disclosures to him, and thereafter a protected disclosure, the campaign of calumny against Sergeant Maurice McCabe which the Tribunal found as a matter of fact to have occurred, would not have been uncovered," they wrote.

"The fact that adverse findings were made against him and his testimony does not detract from this."

Mr Justice Charleton in his ruling said that telling the truth was central to the question of entitlement to costs.

However, he said: "What is crucial to Superintendent Taylor is that he stands alone of an indeterminate number in our police force who came forward and told some of the truth.

As to the treatment of Sergeant Maurice McCabe, that version can be viewed as containing the gist of the truth. There were many obfuscations, elisions and refusals on the detail.

"But where would the public interest be without such evidence as he did give?"

Mr Justice Charleton awarded Mr Taylor's wife, Michelle, 50% of her costs.

"There was very little point or benefit - if any at all - to any of her evidence," he said.

Inspector Pat O'Connell, who gave evidence about the handling of a false child sex abuse allegation against Sgt McCabe, is to get 80% of his costs; Detective Garda John Kennedy, who testified about conversations with then minister Pat Rabitte about Sgt McCabe, will get 33% and John Barrett, former human resources director with the Garda, will get 60%.

The Irish Examiner was awarded 80% of its costs.

Mr Justice Charleton said two journalists had been helpful but others had declined to answer questions, citing journalistic privilege, and he disagreed with their stance.

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