Michael Lowry bids to prevent tax trial

High Court challenge sought over claims of incorrect tax returns

Michael Lowry bids to prevent tax trial

Independent TD Michael Lowry is seeking permission to bring a High Court challenge aimed at preventing his trial on alleged tax offences.

Mr Lowry is facing four charges that he allegedly filed incorrect tax returns in 2003 and 2007. His trial was transferred from Tipperary to Dublin on the application of the DPP, based on the amount of people who have voted for Mr Lowry in elections in Tipperary.

This prosecution is “extraordinary” because it concerns a payment Mr Lowry had both declared and paid, his counsel Patrick Treacy told the High Court.

Mr Lowry, aged 60, of Glenreigh, Holycross, Co Tipperary, argues he has no outstanding tax liability and is being treated unfairly and selectively in circumstances where it has not been sought to prosecute others, including some 145 holders of Ansbacher accounts said to have a liability.

He also contends he is entitled to prohibition ord- ers on grounds of alleged prejudicial publicity and alleged wrongful release of taxpayer information into the public domain.

The court heard that the trial should at least be deferred pending his appeal to a Revenue Appeals Commissioner, due for hearing in March, and the outcome of an investigation of his complaint over how details of a search of his home was disclosed to the media when, it is argued, that was potentially an offence under tax legislation.

The decision to transfer Mr Lowry’s trial to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court rather than permit it be heard in Tipperary breaches his rights and amounts to his being punished for his success as a politician in Tipperary, Mr Treacy submitted.

If Mr Lowry was a “hopeless” politician who could not get elected, he would get a trial in his own constituency but, because he is successful, he does not, counsel said.

The DPP had not objected to another Independent Tipperary TD, Mattie McGrath, being tried in Tipperary (on various public order offences of which he was acquitted), counsel said.

The ex parte application (one side only represented) was moved by Mr Treacy before Mr Justice Seamus Noonan yesterday, who directed it should be heard on notice to the intended respondents, including the DPP. Having been told Mr Lowry’s trial is listed for mention before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Friday, the judge said the case will come before the High Court again tomorrow.

Earlier, Mr Treacy said the prosecution related to a payment Mr Lowry had declared in a tax return and had paid. Mr Lowry has been advised by two tax consultants he has no liability in that regard but his prosecution related solely to that payment, counsel said.

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