Seán FitzPatrick ‘too widely reported to get fair trial’

Sean FitzPatrick has pleaded not guilty to 27 charges.

Seán FitzPatrick has launched a High Court action aimed at permanently preventing his trial before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court from going ahead.

Mr FitzPatrick is facing a number of charges including making a misleading, false, or deceptive statement to auditors and of furnishing false information from 2002 to 2007.

The trial has been scheduled to begin on October 5. However, the former Anglo Irish Bank chairman claims he cannot get a fair trial due to the large volume of adverse publicity published and broadcast about him.

Last week, Circuit Court Judge Martin Nolan ruled that the trial should proceed in October, after he rejected an application made on behalf of the former banker from Greystones, Co Wicklow, for an adjournment.

Lawyers for Mr FitzPatrick, aged 66, who has pleaded not guilty to 27 charges under the 1990 Companies Act, made the application due to concerns over the publicity surrounding a recent, separate trial of three Anglo officials.

Arising out of the refusal to put back his trial, lawyers acting for Mr FitzPatrick on Tuesday launched High Court judicial review proceedings against both the DPP and Judge Nolan.

The matter was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Bernard Barton yesterday at the High Court.

Bernard Condon, counsel for Mr FitzPatrick, said his client is seeking orders against the DPP preventing his prosecution from continuing. Mr FitzPatrick also seeks a declaration from the High Court that allowing his trial to proceed is contrary to the concept of a fair trial under Article 38 of the Constitution.

In the alternative, Mr FitzPatrick, who was not present in court, is also seeking an order preventing his trial from going ahead on October 5.

Counsel said that, arising out of the decision to allow the trial proceed, his client has brought proceedings seeking various orders and declarations including one quashing Judge Nolan’s decision not to adjourn the trial.

Mr Justice Barton said he was not prepared to hear Mr FitzPatrick’s application for permission to bring his challenge in the absence of the other side. He directed the application be heard by the High Court in the presence of the DPP on August 21.

Last Thursday, Judge Nolan said he was declining Mr FitzPatrick’s application to put back the trial.

The judge in his ruling pointed out the defendant had been the subject of attention for some time and there has been a huge amount of adverse publicity directed toward Seán FitzPatrick since 2008. However, the judge said he believes a jury can deal with the case impartially.

Mr FitzPatrick’s acquittal at a separate recent criminal trial underscored his confidence in this regard, in that the jury arrived at a verdict based on the facts of the case.

Lawyers for the DPP had submitted the publicity did not render the trial incapable of going ahead.


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