Shatter hits back at claim over Taoiseach

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has launched an unprecedented attack on a newspaper amid a claim Enda Kenny intervened in a family separation case.

Mr Shatter became embroiled in the matter after a Sunday newspaper printed correspondence showing Mr Kenny forwarded a letter from a constituent of his to the justice minister about the dispute.

The dispute worsened late last night after two nearly identical versions of the same letter were released, one by the minister and one by the Sunday Independent.

The woman in the case contacted the Taoiseach alleging documents used in the marriage separation legal case were “forged or otherwise invalid”. Mr Kenny contacted Mr Shatter “to know the present position” in the dispute.

Mr Kenny wrote to Mr Shatter’s office twice about the case. Mr Shatter replied in May: “I am sure your constituent will understand that it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the family dispute.”

He also said it would be “entirely improper for a member of Government to intervene in any way” with records relating to the case.

Amid calls for Mr Kenny to make a statement on the matter, Mr Shatter yesterday issued a staunch defence of his party leader.

Mr Shatter, a family solicitor, said Mr Kenny had not sought to “intervene” or “meddle” in the case.

He claimed it was a “gross misrepresentation” of the correspondence. The newspaper had “corrupted the content of that correspondence to fabricate a contrived, sensational story to generate a front page headline for the paper’s commercial benefit”, he claimed.

This had been deliberately done to damage Mr Kenny’s reputation, said Mr Shatter. The Sunday Independent rejected the content and tone of Mr Shatter’s statement and stood by its story, releasing the letter it received under the FOI act.

This referenced “court” registry records for the case.

Late last night, Mr Shatter again hit out, saying the article “was and remains a wholly inaccurate claim”. He illustrated his point by publishing a second version of the letter, which referred to “land” registry records.

He has asked for the newspaper to issue an apol-ogy and correction. How-ever, he added: “It is possible... the Sunday Independent was furnished with an uncorrected draft which mistakenly contained a reference to ‘court registry records’.”

Mr Kenny’s spokesman said he had nothing to add to Mr Shatter’s statement.

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