Independent TD Michael Lowry has made a formal complaint about how a note he sent to Taoiseach Enda Kenny came into the public domain, the High Court has heard.
The contents of the handwritten note, asking Mr Kenny to consider reappointing Valerie O’Reilly — a former PR adviser to Mr Lowry — to the board of the National Transport Authority was published in the Sunday Independent newspaper last month.
Mr Lowry’s counsel Patrick Treacy SC told Mr Justice Seamus Noonan the manner in which the note made its way into the public domain, in advance of Deputy Lowry’s trial on alleged tax offences, is prejudicial to his client.
The circumstances of how “individuals in Dáil Éireann” provided the newspaper with the note is now the subject of a formal complaint by the Tipperary TD to the Dáil’s Committee on Procedures and Privileges, counsel said.
Mr Treacy was addressing the court as part of Mr Lowry’s application for permission to bring a High Court challenge aimed at preventing his trial before Dublin Circuit Court 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 Co Tipperary to Dublin on the application of the DPP, based on the number of people who have voted for Mr Lowry in elections in Tipperary.
The independent TD claims his prosecution is extraordinary, as it concerns a payment he had declared and paid. Mr Lowry, aged 60, of Glenreigh, Holycross, Co Tipperary, says 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.
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.
Yesterday, Mr Treacy asked if Mr Lowry could be excused from having to attend court in Dublin, which he is required to do under his conditions of bail, every time his case is listed for mention. Counsel said his attendance would attract a lot of media attention, which would be prejudicial to his client given the case will go before a jury. The request was opposed by the DPP.
Mr Justice Noonan adjourned the matter to today, when he will hear Mr Lowry’s application for permission to bring his challenge. The judge said he was inclined to grant an interim stay on the criminal action.