Buck­ley’s body­guard and INM data

The Irish Times - Business - - FRONT PAGE - Mark Paul,

One of the more in­trigu­ing sub­plots in the shock­ing al­leged In­de­pen­dent News & Me­dia (INM) data breach con­cerns the in­volve­ment of a for­mer Ir­ish Army mem­ber turned pri­vate se­cu­rity con­sul­tant John Henry.

As part of his ap­pli­ca­tion to the High Court to have in­spec­tors ap­pointed to INM, the Di­rec­tor of Cor­po­rate En­force­ment Ian Dren­nan avers that Henry ef­fec­tively ran the se­cret “in­ter­ro­ga­tion” of INM’s email sys­tem – in­clud­ing those of some of its jour­nal­ists – in 2014 and 2015 that is at the heart of the saga.

Henry, Dren­nan be­lieves, over­saw the en­deav­our to parse INM’s backup IT sys­tem, which was al­legedly fa­cil­i­tated by Les­lie Buck­ley, INM’s for­mer chair­man and a close ally of De­nis O’Brien. Dren­nan al­leges that Blay­don, an Isle of Man com­pany con­trolled by O’Brien, paid for the se­cret data “in­ter­ro­ga­tion”.

Buck­ley has told the High Court that Henry “pro­vides cer­tain se­cu­rity ser­vices to me”, and re­ferred to his sup­posed “area of ex­per­tise in IT sys­tems”. How­ever sources who have en­coun­tered Henry in the course of his work said they were bet­ter aware of his ex­per­tise as a body­guard than his pro­fi­ciency in tech­nol­ogy.

Dublin-based Henry, who is aged 61 and has worked in pri­vate se­cu­rity for close to 30 years, isn’t keen to dis­cuss his role in the INM af­fair, and has ter­mi­nated nu­mer­ous calls from this news­pa­per ask­ing him for de­tails.

Dren­nan, mean­while, has queried in court pa­pers why there was an “omis­sion” con­cern­ing Henry’s in­volve­ment when INM wrote to the Data Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner last Au­gust. Lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Dren­nan’s of­fice have also pre­vi­ously told the High Court that they want to learn more about his role.

Who is this man who ap­pears to have played such a cen­tral role in the the un­rav­el­ling saga that may be po­ten­tially the most sig­nif­i­cant sus­pected data breach in the his­tory of the State?

Henry, who owns the Ci­tywest-based com­pany Spe­cial­ist Se­cu­rity Ser­vices (SSS), ap­pears to have no so­cial me­dia pres­ence, and no pho­to­graphs of him are read­ily avail­able, in­clud­ing on the SSS web­site. He is known to have worked very closely for many years with Buck­ley, vice-chair­man of O’Brien’s Dig­i­cel telco, es­pe­cially in the pro­vi­sion of “close se­cu­rity”, or body­guard­ing, in strife-torn Haiti, one of Dig­i­cel’s main mar­kets.

His close per­sonal fa­mil­iar­ity with Buck­ley is clearly ev­i­dent in the tone of text mes­sages he sent to the busi­ness­man over the course of the data “in­ter­ro­ga­tion”, as out­lined in Dren­nan’s court pa­pers. “Just look­ing at JW archive mail­box with mails go­ing back to 1999 !!!! ,” he told Buck­ley in one ex­change un­earthed by Dren­nan’s team. “Yup­piee!!! (sic)”

Sources who have per­son­ally en­coun­tered Henry por­trayed him as a di­rect and phys­i­cally im­pos­ing man, who was known for car­ry­ing two guns in the course of his se­cu­rity work in Haiti, where the use of armed guards to pro­tect western ex­ec­u­tives is le­gal and would not be un­usual.

Re­con­nais­sance Group, run by Henry’s ex-Army of­fi­cer son Shane, also pro­vides armed per­sonal se­cu­rity to Dig­i­cel ex­ec­u­tives. In Haiti many Dig­i­cel ex­ec­u­tives travel about in cars driven by body­guards.

Henry comes from a large Dublin fam­ily, many of whom ap­pear to be based in and around the Bal­lyfer­mot area of west Dublin and are also in­volved in the se­cu­rity sec­tor. Henry him­self has in re­cent years had a num­ber of south­side Dublin ad­dresses on of­fi­cial doc­u­ments, and has also been based in Wex­ford.

Prior to set­ting up SSS in 1993, he ran a com­pany called Spe­cial­ist Se­cu­rity Ser­vices (Static Guards) with an­other fam­ily mem­ber Paul Henry.

That com­pany went into liq­ui­da­tion in

1995. The prior year, court records show, Paul Henry filed a per­sonal in­jury claim against John Henry trad­ing as SSS, but that case was set­tled in 1997.

From the end of the 1980s, which ap­pears to be when he ex­ited the Army, John Henry ap­pears to have been in­volved in at least five dif­fer­ent pri­vate se­cu­rity

busi­nesses, usu­ally with var­i­ous mem­bers of the ex­tended Henry fam­ily.

SSS ap­pears to be far and away the most suc­cess­ful of th­ese. Within a few years of set­ting it up it had about 30 staff, ac­cord­ing to fil­ings. Its most re­cent ac­counts, for 2016, show re­tained profits of €180,000. The com­pany has been named in court pa­pers as one of those that was given ac­cess to INM’s data.

Henry is also, seem­ingly, a mo­tor­bike en­thu­si­ast. Eight years ago he reg­is­tered the Mo­to­bunker busi­ness name to the Ci­tywest ad­dress that is used by SSS, but there is no ev­i­dence read­ily avail­able to sug­gest it ever traded in its tar­geted sec­tor of mo­tor­cy­cle re­fur­bish­ment. Henry was un­til last year a mi­nor share­holder in Re­con­nais­sance, which has also been named in court pa­pers as hav­ing an in­volve­ment in the al­leged data “in­ter­ro­ga­tion”, but he trans­ferred his share last sum­mer to its fi­nan­cial con­troller.

Pri­vate se­cu­rity con­sul­tants are, by the very na­ture of their job, meant to op­er­ate un­der the radar. The pre­cise rea­son for the ap­par­ent close in­volve­ment of Buck­ley’s pri­vate body­guard in the INM data saga is, how­ever, a mys­tery to many out­side ob­servers at present.

The High Court in­spec­tors to INM, if the court ap­proves an ap­pli­ca­tion by Dren­nan, must surely aim to get to the bot­tom of it.

Who is this man who ap­pears to have played such a cen­tral role in the un­rav­el­ling saga that may be po­ten­tially the most sig­nif­i­cant sus­pected data breach in the his­tory of the State?

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