Material sought from investigation into alleged data leak at INM

Court hears applications  on behalf of a number of people who are seeking information for pending or intended litigation against former INM chairman Leslie Buckley and/or the company itself.
Material sought from investigation into alleged data leak at INM
Former INM chairman Leslie Buckley strongly denies any wrongdoing amid claims he secretly engineered the data breach. File picture. Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

A High Court judge will give his decision in October on applications by a number of people seeking material from a court-appointed investigation into an alleged data leak at Independent News and Media (INM).

Mr Justice Garrett Simons heard applications today on behalf of a number of people who are among what is known as the "INM 19" and are seeking information for pending or intended litigation against former INM chairman Leslie Buckley and/or the company itself.

Mr Buckley, who the corporate watching claimed secretly engineered the data breach, strongly denies any wrongdoing. He opposed the applications.

The applications were made on behalf of journalist Sam Smyth, former INM executive Andrew Donagher, ex-chief financial officer Donal Buggy, former head of group treasury Anne Marie Healy, former INM employee Mandy Scott, PR executives Mark Kenny ,Harriet Mansergh and Rory Godson.

There were also applications from Vincent Crowley who took over as CEO from Gavin O'Reilly in 2012 and from INM Ireland CEO Joe Webb. A separate case is being brought by media solicitor Simon McAleese. They allege, among other things, breaches of data protection, privacy and of their constitutional rights.

Oisin Quinn SC, for a number of the applicants, said the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), which got court approval to appoint inspectors into INM over the alleged leak, had said there was wrongdoing of a most unusual and marked kind.

His clients sought the information involved for their proceedings on the basis of the decision of the High Court over a year ago to order release of the papers to two other people also suing over the matter, former group CEO Mr O'Reilly and former executive Karl Brophy.

Joe Jeffers BL, for Vincent Crowley, said his client was one of the INM-19 and their case was on "all-fours" with that of Mr Quinn’s clients.

Seán Guerin SC, for Mr Buckley, said these applicants were not in the same position as the O'Reilly and Brophy cases and there were no special circumstances meriting the granting of access to information.

None of them, despite having had certain other documents for two years had shown any value to or pointed to any wrongdoing by Mr Buckley, he said.

Mr McAleese, the solicitor, relied on a "bare assertion" of his belief of wrongdoing but did not produce anything to support it, he said.

Four PR executives who are also suing never worked for INM and it was difficult to see how they could have any data on the company computer, he said.

Mr Guerin also said a suggestion that Mr Buckely was seeking to delay their proceedings was wholly improper and without foundation.

The application should also be refused because it would confer improper litigious advantage because it was information supplied as part of a statutory process.

Applications on behalf of Joe Webb, whose lawyer Robert Fitzpatrick said he wants the documents for the purpose of prosecuting his case against INM, and from Rory Godson, were adjourned to October 6.

The court heard INM itself as not objecting to access to the papers on the basis that it will be confined for use in the proceedings.

Mr Justice Simons said he would give judgment on October 6.

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