Lawyers seek judge to deal with Anglo ‘media frenzy’

A request has been made to elect a trial judge to deal with disclosure and prevent “a media frenzy whipping up a lynch mob mentality” in relation to the upcoming trial of former Anglo Irish Bank executives.

The trial of former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick and two former directors was before Judge Martin Nolan yesterday at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to check on the case’s progress.

Mr FitzPatrick, aged 65, of Whitshed Road, Greystones; William McAteer, aged 62, of Auburn Villas, Rathgar; and Pat Whelan aged 51 of Coast Rd, Malahide, are charged with 16 counts of allegedly providing unlawful financial assistance to individuals to buy shares in the bank.

Lawyers for the men and for the State all felt it was necessary to appoint a judge now to deal with the large volume of material and issues which may arise leading up to the trial on Jan 14.

Brendan Grehan, defending Mr Whelan, said: “I don’t think this case can be progressed to trial without a judge taking charge of it now.” He said applications are going to arise, “apart from issues of relevance and privilege,” in relation to disclosure in the case.

Counsel said it would also be appropriate to appoint someone now who can “give directions not just to the parties but also to the media”. “We simply cannot have a fair trial take place where a media frenzy is whipping up a lynch mob mentality,” Mr Grehan said.

Michael O’Higgins, for Mr FitzPatrick, asked for a second hearing date to be set in September to deal with any issues that may arise in relation to disclosure of evidence.

Uná Ní Raifeartaigh, prosecuting, said the DPP had sought to “prioritise certain things”, which she said has been done now and the State are now moving to the issue of obtaining material from “a large number of third parties”.

All sides stressed that they were anxious for the trial to proceed in January.

However, Mr O’Higgins said given the recent coverage his client “would be in a strong position” to request that the trial not take place until next summer but said that was exactly what he did not want.

Judge Nolan adjourned the case until Tuesday.


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