Business Minister Heather Humphreys has rejected Opposition demands to publish a 235-page report into the Sean FitzPatrick trial collapse, saying “I would be breaking the law” if it was released.
Ms Humphreys defended the decision not to publish the report after Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy demanded its release and Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace called for a “full independent inquiry”.
The 235-page report comes with 3,000 pages of appendices into the flawed Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) investigation into Mr FitzPatrick which led to his trial collapsing on May 23 last year.
The report has detailed key reasons for the trial’s collapse and issues in the ODCE’s work on the FitzPatrick-Anglo Irish Bank case between 2008 and 2012.
However, despite the importance of the document, Attorney General Seamus Woulfe advised the Government not to publish it as releasing the information may breach the Companies Act and inform people about the ODCE’s highly sensitive operations.
While the Government published a 30-page “account” by the trial’s judge, John Aylmer, to give the public an understanding of events, the refusal to publish the longer report has led to an Opposition backlash.
However, speaking in the Dáil, Ms Humphreys rejected the transparency demands, saying if she was to go against the Attorney General’s advice she would be breaking the law.
I am not hiding behind this [advice] but can I say if I do that [publish the full report] I will break the law. And that is fact,” she said.
Ms Humphreys was responding to Mr Wallace, who said the “account” published “doesn’t give the answers we’re looking for”. Calling for “a full and independent inquiry”, he said the reason not to publish “doesn’t stack up” and accused the Government of “hiding behind the Attorney General’s advice”.
Ms Murphy similarly called for the full report’s release, saying: “I simply don’t buy the line that this important report can’t be published in full due to legal considerations. There is an overwhelming case for the minister to publish the entire 235-page report with sensitive material redacted.”