A consulting company has told the High Court that billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien has left “clouded in mystery” exactly how material from the firm’s computer files ended up on a USB stick placed in an envelope sent anonymously to Mr O’Brien.
Michael Collins, for Dublin-based Red Flag Consulting Ltd, said it was of “extraordinary concern” to the firm how its computers were accessed, material extracted from them, and how a dossier of that material ended up on Mr O’Brien’s desk.
It was not known whether its computers were hacked or if someone had passed on the information, he said. Mr O’Brien had hired a private investigator to look into his claims of an alleged conspiracy to damage him and it was not clear if the dossier was provided as a result of that investigation or by other means, counsel added.
There was “no explanation” from Mr O’Brien, and the Red Flag side will be asking whether full disclosure was made by Mr O’Brien when he looked for search and seizure orders earlier this week, counsel said. His side wants to know if the process by which Mr O’Brien got the material was lawful.
The dossier includes more than 80 media stories related to Mr O’Brien contained in different files relating to matters such as the planned IPO of his company Digicel, the Moriarty tribunal and the Siteserv transaction. It also includes a PDF under the title “Who is Denis O’Brien?” and another document entitled “The Moriarty Tribunal Explainer”.
Also included in the dossier is a document described as a draft speech for Fianna Fáil TD Colm Keaveney.
A report received last Monday from Espion IT, hired by Mr O’Brien to forensically examine the dossier, showed words and phrases used in that speech are suggestive of Red Flag Consulting chief executive Karl Brophy contributing to that document, said Michael Cush, for Mr O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien wanted to know who paid Mr Brophy “to craft that”.
Mr Cush said his client wants to urgently inspect Red Flag’s computers for its action alleging a “textbook conspiracy” to harm Mr O’Brien’s interests, including the planned IPO of Digicel, by either lawful or unlawful means.
He wants to establish who commissioned the dossier and who contributed to it.
Mr O’Brien’s case is against Red Flag and five people involved with it: Former Independent News & Media senior executives Gavin O’Reilly and Karl Brophy; Red Flag chairman Seamus Conboy; account manager Brid Murphy; and account executive Kevin Hiney.
Mr O’Brien secured court orders this week restraining interference by the defendants with files related to documents contained in the dossier or with any material indicating who contribted to those documents or who may have commissioned them.
Yesterday, on being told both sides would agree to forensic imaging, or photographing, of the contents of the Red Flag computers but each wanted their own IT firms to do that, Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh directed the process be carried out “forthwith” and jointly by IT experts for the sides.
The judge directed that the USB stick, access to which was sought by the Red Flag side, be instead held by Mr O’Brien’s solicitor pending further order.
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