Shatter seeks to quash Guerin report findings

Former justice minister Alan Shatter has mounted a High Court challenge to quash certain findings of the Guerin Report concerning his handling of complaints by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

The report rendered his position as minister for justice “untenable” and has inflicted “severe and irreversible” damage on him in the political context, he claims.

The former minister claims certain conclusions and the procedure adopted in reaching them have caused him “severe reputational harm” as a public official and lawyer and “in the context of any position I may wish to take up in the future”.

In the political context, the damage was “severe and irreversible”.

Mr Shatter is alleging breach of fair procedures and natural justice and “indecent haste” on the part of senior counsel Sean Guerin in how he compiled his report between March 4 and publication on May 6 and reached conclusions critical of the minister, his counsel Patrick O’Reilly outlined.

In proceedings against Mr Guerin, Mr Shatter also alleges Mr Guerin’s membership, while preparing his report, of a Bar Council Committee which criticised aspects of Mr Shatter’s Legal Services Bill; is among various factors giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias. Mr Shatter stresses he is not alleging actual bias.

A “particularly serious consequence” of Mr Guerin’s failure to interview him as minister prior to the report’s publication was that Mr Guerin had misread a letter of advice received by the Department of Justice from the Office of the Attorney General on December 18, 2013 concerning the approach to Mr McCabe’s complaints, it is alleged.

Had the alleged misreading not occurred, Mr Guerin would not have reached certain conclusions adverse to the minister, it is claimed.

Mr Shatter also alleges that Mr Guerin omitted from his report part of the advice which, Mr Shatter claims, recommended the McCabe claims be dealt with in a manner “entirely opposite to the approach subsequently recommended by Mr Guerin”.

Mr Shatter resigned on May 7, a day after publication of the Guerin report and claims he was given “no notice whatsoever” by Mr Guerin that he intended “to pass judgment on my actions as minister”.

He claims he should have been afforded the opportunity to provide Mr Guerin with relevant information that would have assisted him on obtaining “a rigorously accurate understanding” of the events surrounding Sgt McCabe’s complaints and Mr Shatter’s approach to those which could have resulted in Mr Guerin not drawing the disputed conclusions.

The disputed conclusions include Mr Shatter did not cause Sgt McCabe’s allegations to be investigated but accepted the Garda commissioner’s response to the sergeant’s complaints without question.

Mr Shatter claims those conclusions and the procedure adopted in reaching them have caused him “severe reputational harm” as a public official and lawyer and “in the context of any position I may wish to take up in the future”.

The conclusion he failed to heed the voice of Sgt McCabe and the attendant adverse public attention given to that issue “has caused public opprobrium to be incorrectly and unfairly placed upon me”.

He was concerned these issues would “unnecessarily and unfairly” be considered by a Commission of Investigation and public perception of his actions as minister would remain coloured by the Guerin Report conclusions.

Ms Justice Marie Baker yesterday granted leave to Mr O’Reilly to bring the judicial review proceedings.

The case will come before the court again in October.


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