‘You told load of lies to get revenge on Nóirín’
EX-GARDA Press Officer David Taylor told whistleblower Maurice McCabe ‘a load of lies’ because he was fixated on gaining revenge on then Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and her husband, the Disclosures Tribunal has heard.
In a dramatic day of evidence in Dublin Castle yesterday, Supt Taylor, who was grilled for three and a half days, denied the claim.
At the close of his cross-examination, Micheál O’Higgins SC, said: ‘You have abandoned much of what you told Sgt McCabe, [journalist] Mick Clifford, Deputies Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, and possibly others. You have abandoned much of that for fear your account would be exposed.
‘I am suggesting there’s a reason that not a single person is offering direct evidence to support your story of an orchestrated smear campaign.
‘Regrettably, I must put to you that, in the predicament in which you found yourself, with your world closing in, under pressure at home, finances in disarray, and above all else, a strong grievance that you were being unfairly targeted in a criminal and disciplinary procedure – I am suggesting to you that you became fixated with Nóirín O’Sullivan and her husband, and came up with a plan to exact revenge.’
He said Supt Taylor came up with the plan to shield himself, painted himself as a victim and sought to align himself with Sgt McCabe.
Mr O’Higgins added: ‘As part of this, you attempted to sell Sgt McCabe what were a load of lies.
‘I am suggesting you hawked around those lies to politicians, journalists, whoever would listen... in September and October 2016, just after you made your protected disclosure. The purpose of this was to undermine Nóirín O’Sullivan and as part of that you felt you had to also attach Martin Callinan and decided to extend it to [Garda Director of Communications] Andrew McLindon.’
Mr O’Higgins, who represents senior gardaí including the two former commissioners, Mr Callinan and Ms O’Sullivan, said Sgt McCabe’s own protected disclosure was based on what he had been told by Supt Taylor about the alleged smear campaign.
He concluded: ‘This tribunal is in significant measure about your allegations in your protected disclosure. This is a protected disclosure tribunal. And it is not the truth.’
Supt Taylor replied: ‘I don’t accept that.’
Earlier, the tribunal heard that a highly agitated Supt Taylor called to the house of the then retired Mr Callinan, to ‘vent’ about Ms O’Sullivan. Mr O’Higgins said his client, Mr Callinan, has stated that Supt Taylor called to his house in May 2015, after his arrest. ‘Martin Callinan said you told him you were accused of leaking to the media, and you said you had done nothing wrong,’ said counsel.
‘He’s clear that you were blaming the commissioner for your arrest, and you said that you would bring her down because of what she had done to you.’
Supt Taylor, who claims he had been ordered by Mr Callinan to smear Sgt McCabe following his whistleblowing about penalty points, replied: ‘Absolutely not. I wouldn’t say that to her closest colleague. Commissioner Callinan and Nóirín O’Sullivan were very close and I wouldn’t say anything like that.’
Mr O’Higgins continued: ‘I am suggesting you were highly agitated and giving out about Nóirín O’Sullivan. At that point I would suggest you had lost balance and were making wild accusations and were giving out severely about Nóirín O’Sullivan.’
The witness replied: ‘I don’t accept that.’
Counsel then asked if Supt Taylor had called to Mr Callinan’s home because he wanted the former commissioner to ‘advocate’ for him.
‘I wouldn’t ask him. I wouldn’t put him in that position,’ he said.
‘You were disappointed that his response was: knuckle down, get on with it and do your best,’ Mr O’Higgins said.
‘I never sought help from Martin Callinan,’ insisted Supt Taylor.
Questioning Supt Taylor himself, Judge Peter Charleton asked if Mr Callinan had suggested a ‘Plan B’, after the initial smear campaign failed to gain traction in the media. Supt Taylor said he did not. The judge also asked why Supt Taylor had been so bitter about his transfer out of the press office by Ms O’Sullivan.
He asked why the profile of the job had mattered to him.
And he asked if Supt Taylor now fully accepted that, after leaving the press office, he had continued to leak details to the media about murders, rapes, burglaries, extraditions and other cases.
‘I accept my culpability and I regret that tremendously,’ Supt Taylor said.
Taylor grilled for three days