A cyber-security consultant is among several parties who have secured an order for access to documents put before the High Court concerning an alleged data breach at Independent News & Media in 2014.
The application by Derek Mizak and others for an order to be provided with the documents was not opposed by lawyers for INM or the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) when it came before High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly.
In an affidavit, Mr Mizak said the documents were sought solely for the purpose of aiding him in his full co-operation with the investigation by inspectors appointed to INM and his involvement in the proceedings in relation to the data issue.
He also needed the materials to ensure he is on an "equal footing" with other parties who have secured the materials.
The order applies only to material concerning the alleged data interrogation which has been, or will be, put before the High Court as part of proceedings by the ODCE which lead to the September 2018 appointment of inspectors to INM to investigate four matters, including the alleged data breach.
The ODCE had applied for inspectors following his office’s year-long investigation into matters raised in protected disclosures made in 2016 and 2017 by former INM CEO Robert Pitt and former INM Chief Financial Officer Ryan Preston.
The ODCE raised concerns about issues including an alleged data breach involving data being exported from the jurisdiction and interrogated by third parties in what then INM Chairman Leslie Buckley, who stepped down in March 2018, has said was a cost-cutting exercise called Operation Quantum.
Mr Justice Kelly found the ODCE had met certain criteria under Section 748 of the Companies Act 2014 for the appointment of inspectors.
Granting the documents access order today to Paul McGarry SC, for the applicants, the judge observed that other parties - including persons suing over the alleged data interrogation - were previously permitted access to the material.
The terms governing that access, including limitations on use of the documents, apply to the latest applicants.
Mr McGarry made the application on behalf of Mr Mizak, John Henry, Keith Duggan, Shane Henry, DMZ IT Ltd, Specialist Security Services Ltd, Reconaissance Group Ltd and Resilient Defence Ltd.
Mr Mizak is a Dublin-based cyber security consultant and a shareholder of DMZ IT Ltd.
Dublin-based Resilient Defence is a subsidiary of Reconnaisance Group whose chief executive is Shane Henry whose father is John Henry, also a security consultant. Mr Duggan is chief operating officer with Reconaissance.
In his affidavit, Mr Mizak, with an address in Sandyford, Dublin, said he is an interested party to a court order of September 4, 2018 appointing investigators to INM. He was making the affidavit on his own behalf and with the express consent of the other applicants, also parties to the ongoing investigation.
The High Court had appointed Sean Gillane SC and Richard Fleck CBE to investigate INM in respect of four different matters including the data interrogation issue and his involvement, and that of the other parties to this application, was limited to the data interrogation issue.
Because the circumstances giving rise to that involvement are subject of an ongoing investigation, he did not believe it would be appropriate to discuss any matters relevant to that investigation unless they pertained to this application, he said.
He first became aware of the INM proceedings arising from the large amount of publicity it was given and had not previously sought access to the documents as he believed the matter arose from corporate governance concerns within INM and was not relevant to him.
It has subsequently become clear his involvement, and involvement of the other parties to this application, has become of relevance to the inspectors investigation, he said.
He and his solicitors have to date fully co-operated and actively engaged with the investigators and intend to continue to do so. He believed he and the other applicants remain the only individuals co-operating with the investigation who are not in possession of the materials at issue and this placed him at "a clear disadvantage" in terms of his ongoing involvement.