Murphy brings action against tribunal

Businessman Joseph Murphy Jr has brought a legal action against the Planning Tribunal and State claiming damages over alleged misfeasance in public office.

Mr Murphy also wants formal court orders quashing findings of corruption made against him by the Tribunal rather than, as the Tribunal proposes, having those findings deleted from its report on its website.

The claim for damages arises from what Michael Cush, counsel for Mr Murphy, described as a “pattern” of behaviour by the Tribunal in not giving his client full information bearing on the credibility of his “chief and only accuser”, the late James Gogarty.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that findings by former Tribunal chairman Mr Justice Flood that Mr Murphy and Frank Reynolds, both then directors of Jiseph Murphy Structural Engineering, had “obstructed and hindered” its enquiries were outside the Tribunal’s terms of reference, unlawful and could not form a basis for refusing them their costs of participating in the tribunal.

The Supreme Court also found, and the Tribunal conceded, that important material described by one of the judges as “potentially explosive” going to the credibility of Mr Gogarty was wrongly withheld by the Tribunal. It included allegations made by Mr Gogarty, who died in 2005, against a politican and a law officer.

After that “trenchant” criticism over the Tribunal’s disclosure failures, Mr Murphy got further “extensive” material last February, including prior statements and interviews with witnesses, which all bears on the credibility of Mr Gogarty, counsel said.

While the Tribunal now accepts that the findings of corruption cannot stand, it proposed to put a notice on its website to that effect but Mr Murphy, who was very adversely affected by publicity about the findings, wanted a court order, Mr Cush said. He was entitled to that order in vindicaiton of his right to his good name.

After outlining the nature of the judicial review proceedings to Mr Justice Paul McDermott, the judge directed the tribunal be put on notice of Mr Murphy’s application and returned the matter to the next law term.


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