Taoiseach faces controversy over claims of altered Mahon files

BERTIE Ahern’s purchase of his Drumcondra home was at the centre of fresh controversy last night as questions were raised whether files given to the Mahon corruption probe had been altered.

The information emerged as the Taoiseach prepared for another bruising encounter with the tribunal at Dublin Castle against the background of Mr Ahern’s legal challenge to block the inquiry from asking him about Dáil statements.

Tribunal senior counsel Des O’Neill raises queries over 50 missing pages in one file supplied to the probe and alludes to the possibility others were changed in transcripts obtained by Newstalk’s Lunchtime with Eamon Keane show.

The documents show that in February 2005 businessman Michael Wall retrieved files relating to the 1997 sale of his Beresford Avenue property to Mr Ahern and passed them on to the Taoiseach.

Mr Wall strongly rejected any suggestion files then handed over to the tribunal by him had been interfered with.

Mr O’Neill raises the matter of missing pages from a file relating to a will drawn up by Mr Wall bequeathing the Drumcondra house to Mr Ahern, even though the Fianna Fáil leader was just a tenant at the time.

The leaked transcripts show Ken Morris, who took over the practice of Mr Ahern’s solicitor Gerry Brennan after he died, was asked why documentation relating to the will was not originally given to the tribunal and was subsequently included with other separate documentation.

“Do you think documents were taken out? There is a difference of 50 pages — 395 pages in the file, which was said to be the original Brennan file. The documentation here is 345 pages in relation to the Brennan file. This is a file which was constructed from the original file but it includes documentation which was not in the original file and was not provided to the tribunal,” Mr O’Neill asked him.

Ken Morris denied any wrongdoing: “It certainly wasn’t done with any malice with me, aforethought.”

The Taoiseach told the Dáil in October 2006 he had given all documents relating to the purchase to the tribunal.

Mr Ahern is seeking a ruling from the High Court that would bar the tribunal asking him about anything he said in the Dáil, even if it did not tally with statements outside parliament or to the tribunal.

The action, to be heard on April 1, will also seek to stop the probe requesting 150 documents relating to advice given to the Taoiseach by his financial adviser.

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