O’Brien, Red Flag ‘progress’ in dispute

Efforts are continuing to try and reach agreement about the amount of computer material a Dublin-based consulting firm must provide for photographing by experts for businessman Denis O’Brien in legal proceedings against the firm.

At the High Court yesterday, Michael Cush SC, for Mr O’Brien, said they had made progress in relation to the material to be made available by Red Flag Consulting Ltd for photographing.

After being told some matters remained to be addressed, Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh agreed, with consent of both sides, to adjourn the matter to Thursday.

Mr O’Brien wants his experts to photograph certain material in preparation for his action alleging Red Flag is involved in an conspiracy to damage him personally and commercially, including concerning the recent planned IPO of his company, Digicel, which ultimately did not proceed.

His action over alleged defamation and conspiracy is against Red Flag and some of its directors and employees, including Red Flag CEO Karl Brophy, a former senior executive with Independent News & Media; and another red Flag senior executive, Gavin O’Reilly, a former CEO of INM.

The businessman’s lawyers last week complained the defendants breached an order made earlier this month allowing experts for both sides carry out “forensic imaging” of computer files. That process involves taking photographs of certain documents and storing them pending the court’s decision whether Mr O’Brien is entitled to inspect the documents.

Mr O’Brien’s lawyers initially sought orders permitting his side enter Red Flag’s offices and inspect all its computers and take material but the High Court refused that as “quite draconian”.

He instead got an order restraining interference with the documents. That order has been varied to allow forensic imaging be carried out by experts for both sides.

The court fixed December 8 to hear Mr O’Brien’s application to inspect the photographed material.

Red Flag denies defamation, conspiracy, or any wrongdoing. Its lawyers told the court the dossier does contain material gathered by the firm which is very concerned how that came into Mr O’Brien’s possession.

Mr O’Brien’s side alleged the Red Flag side was not complying fully with the forensic imaging order on grounds including they could not access material stored in ‘cloud’, an internet-based system of data storage, to trace whether material had been deleted.

In denying any breach, the Red Flag side argued the order only provided limited access to the computers of those involved in creating, editing, and reviewing the dossier documents.

Mr Cush said there were still some outstanding matters, including imaging of Dropbox comments concerning media articles which featured in the dossier.

The Red Flag sid said it has the 30-day comments version of Dropbox but would ask Dropbox if it could provide a longer version, counsel outlined. There were other matters to be addressed, including conflicting expert advice about material stored in “cloud”.

The judge adjourned the case to Thursday to allow remaining issues be addressed.


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