Former TD’s right to fair trial breached, court hears

FORMER Fine Gael TD Liam Cosgrave has begun an appeal aimed at halting his criminal trial in connection with alleged corrupt payments concerning land rezonings in Co Dublin.

Mr Cosgrave and businessman James Kennedy are separately seeking orders from the Supreme Court stopping their trials over alleged corrupt payments in relation to rezoning of lands in Carrickmines, owned by Jackson Way Properties in 1992 and the successful rezoning of part of these lands in 1997.

In the High Court last July, Mr Justice John Hedigan rejected both men’s separate judicial review applications and their appeals against that decision came before the Supreme Court yesterday.

However, the court said it would hear only Mr Cosgrave’s appeal at this stage and would adjourn Mr Kennedy’s appeal to January.

Mr Cosgrave, of Merrion Park, Blackrock, Co Dublin, has denied charges of receiving sums between June 12 and June 29, 1992; on December 23, 1997, at Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin; and on October 30, 1997, at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin.

Brendan Grehan, counsel for Mr Cosgrave, yesterday argued his client’s constitutional right to a fair trial was breached by the failure to disclose to him or his lawyers in 2004 that lobbyist Frank Dunlop had provided a written statement to gardaí in relation to the alleged corrupt payments.

Mr Cosgrave was questioned in 2004 about charges of breaches of the Electoral Act to which he later pleaded guilty, he said.

However, while accepting Mr Cosgrave and his advisers were aware in 2004 of allegations of corruption made by Mr Dunlop to the planning tribunal, such allegations could not form the basis of criminal proceedings, he said. Mr Cosgrave was entitled to know Mr Dunlop had also provided a statement outside the tribunal’s “safe haven”.

The appeal continues.

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