‘Les­lie. This storm will pass. I know it is aw­ful for you... but we need to play the long game. Best re­gards. De­nis’

The af­fi­davit re­lat­ing to a 2014 data breach and other con­tro­ver­sies at In­de­pen­dent News & Me­dia con­tains de­tails of con­tact be­tween key play­ers, in­clud­ing the com­pany’s former chair­man Les­lie Buck­ley and its largest share­holder De­nis O’Brien

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE - Colm Keena Le­gal Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent

Robert Pitt was 44 years old and chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer of Tesco in the Czech Repub­lic when In­de­pen­dent News & Me­dia (INM) an­nounced, in July 2014, that he was go­ing to take over as its new chief ex­ec­u­tive.

“The board is de­lighted to an­nounce the ap­point­ment,” said the chair­man of Ire­land’s largest news­pa­per pub­lisher, Les­lie Buck­ley

“The news pub­lish­ing sec­tor faces many chal­lenges and Robert Pitt, whose ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes change-man­age­ment and dig­i­tal strat­egy, is well equipped to lead INM into the fu­ture.”

It hasn’t quite worked out as Buck­ley en­vis­aged. Over the past three years Pitt and Buck­ley have been party to a num­ber of se­ri­ous dis­putes, all of them in­volv­ing INM’s largest share­holder, busi­ness­man De­nis O’Brien, whose nom­i­nee Buck­ley was on the INM board.

Dis­clo­sures by Pitt about the dis­putes with Buck­ley have led di­rectly to an ap­pli­ca­tion that is to be men­tioned on Mon­day be­fore the pres­i­dent of the High Court, Mr Jus­tice Peter Kelly, for the ap­point­ment of in­spec­tors to INM. It is a disas­ter for one of the State’s premier me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions, pub­lisher of the Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent and Sun­day In­de­pen­dent, the

Even­ing Her­ald, other ti­tles, and a news web­site.

Even if the ap­pli­ca­tion from the Di­rec­tor of Cor­po­rate En­force­ment, Ian Dren­nan, is not ap­proved, what has emerged al­ready from the af­fi­davit he has filed is hugely dam­ag­ing to INM’s rep­u­ta­tion, and will con­tinue to cost INM dearly in terms of le­gal and other fees. It also raises se­ri­ous ques­tions about me­dia own­er­ship in the State.

In the af­fi­davit, which has yet to be opened in court, Dren­nan says he has “very sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns” about the role played by Buck­ley as O’Brien’s nom­i­nee on the INM board. “It can­not be,” he said, “that a nom­i­nee chair­man/di­rec­tor is per­mit­ted to override the in­ter­ests of the com­pany to fur­ther the in­ter­ests of the nom­i­nat­ing share­holder.”

What his in­quiries to date at INM had un­cov­ered, he said, sug­gested, at the very least, that the in­ter­ests of the com­pany and the other share­hold­ers had been put at risk of prej­u­dice by Buck­ley’s in­ter­ac­tions with O’Brien.

Back-up tapes

Although Pitt’s ap­point­ment was an­nounced in July 2014, he was not in a po­si­tion to take up the role un­til later that year. In the mean­time INM was run by a com­mit­tee com­pris­ing Buck­ley and non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors Tri­ona Mullane, Alan Marshall, and Terry Buck­ley (no re­la­tion to Les­lie).

In Oc­to­ber 2014, around the time Pitt was to take over from the com­mit­tee headed by Buck­ley, the backup tapes from the INM server were given to a com­pany in Wales called Trusted Data So­lu­tions. It ap­pears these tapes con­tained in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing emails, go­ing back years. One of the mat­ters Dren­nan wants in­ves­ti­gated by High Court in­spec­tors, is why this hap­pened.

Ac­cess to the tapes, ac­cord­ing to Dren­nan’s af­fi­davit, was given to a num­ber of com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als, some of whom also sup­ply cy­ber­se­cu­rity and phys­i­cal se­cu­rity ser­vices to O’Brien’s tele­coms op­er­a­tion in the Caribbean, Dig­i­cel. Buck­ley is a vice chair­man of Dig­i­cel.

The bill for the in­ter­ro­ga­tion of the data was not paid for by INM but rather by an Isle of Man com­pany called Blay­don. As was revealed by this news­pa­per in Novem­ber 2017, as part of its Par­adise Papers cov­er­age, Blay­don is ben­e­fi­cially owned by O’Brien, though its own­er­ship is not ap­par­ent from its com­pany fil­ings in the Isle of Man. The com­pany has had bank ac­counts here since 2011 through which large sums of money, some­times up to ¤2 mil­lion a month, are trans­acted, with in­struc­tions com­ing from O’Brien’s of­fices on Grand Canal Quay, Dublin.

In Jan­uary, when O’Brien was in Davos, Switzer­land, at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum, he de­clined to comment when asked by The Ir­ish Times if he had paid for work re­lat­ing to the ap­par­ent data breach.

Buck­ley told Dren­nan the re­moval of the tapes was part of a cost-cut­ting ex­er­cise wherein he was ex­am­in­ing the back­ground to the con­tract INM had with the law firm, Si­mon McAleese & Co, which pro­vided defama­tion ad­vice to the me­dia group’s main ti­tles.

McAleese had been pro­vid­ing defama­tion ad­vice to INM for years, long be­fore O’Brien spent a whop­ping ¤500 mil­lion in­vest­ing in INM shares, that have since largely lost their value, and thereby re­plac­ing An­thony O’Reilly as INM’s largest share­holder. The McAleese con­tract has since ended and has not been re­newed.

Dren­nan is not sat­is­fied by Buck­ley’s ex­pla­na­tion and has stated in his af­fi­davit that the pur­pose of re­mov­ing the data re­mains un­clear. In the ma­te­rial his of­fice col­lected dur­ing its in­ves­ti­ga­tions is a list of “per­sons of in­ter­est” about whom it ap­pears, the INM data was “in­ter­ro­gated” for “hits”. Among the names searched for were two bar­ris­ters who acted for the Mo­ri­arty tri­bunal, which pub­lished a re­port in 2011 that was enor­mously dam­ag­ing to O’Brien’s rep­u­ta­tion.

Buck­ley told Dren­nan’s of­fice that the INM board knew about the Oc­to­ber 2014 data ex­er­cise but the board has said that this was not the case. In 2017, when Pitt first queried what had oc­curred in 2014, the board made a re­port to the Data Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner, He­len Dixon. Dren­nan has said this re­port un­der­played what had oc­curred.

In his af­fi­davit Dren­nan noted that there is a par­tic­u­lar sen­si­tiv­ity as­so­ci­ated with data aris­ing from the work of jour­nal­ists. The ap­par­ent data breach seems likely to have in­volved highly sen­si­tive ma­te­rial about sources of in­for­ma­tion for jour­nal­ists at INM com­ing into the hands of third par­ties. Dren­nan does not say so but ob­vi­ously the data could in­volve sources such as gov­ern­ment min­is­ters, politi­cians gen­er­ally, mem­bers of An Garda Síochána, civil and pub­lic ser­vants, and peo­ple in­volved in com­merce and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions.

It is also stated that, dur­ing one meet­ing when Buck­ley was press­ing his se­nior ex­ec­u­tives to go with the deal, he said: ‘Do you not get it lads?’

Is­land Capital

Within months of Pitt tak­ing up his post, a dis­pute arose over a pro­posed ¤1.5 mil­lion pay­ment by INM to a com­pany owned by O’Brien.

Dur­ing early 2015, INM was in­volved in sell­ing its in­ter­est in an Australian me­dia group called APN. On the day the deal was com­pleted – March 18th – Pitt and INM di­rec­tor Jerome Kennedy re­ceived an email from Buck­ley con­tain­ing a pro­posal from Is­land Capital, a com­pany owned by O’Brien, that it would be paid a fee of 0.9 per cent (ap­prox­i­mately ¤1.5 mil­lion) from the pro­ceeds of the APN sale, in re­turn for the work it had done. Pitt, it ap­pears, did not be­lieve Is­land had done any work on the deal.

Pitt re­sponded to Buck­ley say­ing that Is­land Capital had added no value to the trans­ac­tion and that if such a fee was to be paid, it would have to be pub­licly de­clared given INM’s sta­tus as a pub­licly-listed com­pany and the link with O’Brien. On re­ceipt of this ad­vice, ac­cord­ing to Pitt, the fee “was pulled”.

Ac­cord­ing to Dren­nan “it is ob­vi­ously of con­cern that there was even con­sid­er­a­tion of pay­ment of a fee to Is­land Capital in cir­cum­stances in which Is­land Capital may not have pro­vided any ser­vices war­rant­ing such a fee.”

Two years later the mat­ter was con­sid­ered by in­de­pen­dent re­view­ers ap­pointed by the INM board.

They con­cluded that, con­trary to what Pitt had said, Is­land Capital had in fact done work of sig­nif­i­cant value. They had, they said, been per­suaded by the ev­i­dence

of Kennedy in this re­gard.

Dren­nan, in his af­fi­davit, said that while he noted the con­clu­sion of the in­de­pen­dent re­view­ers, “what is not clear from re­port is the ba­sis on which the in­de­pen­dent re­view­ers pre­ferred the ev­i­dence of Mr Kennedy over Mr Pitt”.

In the af­fi­davit Dren­nan also quoted some text mes­sages be­tween O’Brien and Buck­ley that were ex­changed in March 2015, on the morn­ing after Buck­ley had sent his email to Pitt and Kennedy.

At 8.48 am O’Brien texted Buck­ley: “Les­lie, don’t men­tion Cosi deal to any­body thanks De­nis.”

Four min­utes later Buck­ley re­sponded: “De­nis men­tioned it to Jerome and Robert yes­ter­day so to get their buy in but was not spe­cific We in INM need to han­dle it very care­fully Les­lie.”

O’Brien re­sponded im­me­di­ately: “OK. Let’s talk later thanks.”

Last year, ac­cord­ing to Dren­nan, Buck­ley was asked about this exchange. He said that the ref­er­ence to a “Cosi deal” might have been to an out­door ad­ver­tis­ing deal then be­ing con­sid­ered by O’Brien in China, or may have been to dis­cus­sions Buck­ley and O’Brien were hav­ing as to the role to be played by APN di­rec­tor Ted Har­ris, after INM had sold its stake in the Australian com­pany.

“With ref­er­ence to ei­ther pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion,” Dren­nan said in his af­fi­davit, “why the chair­man would con­sider it nec­es­sary to get Mr Pitt’s or Mr Kennedy’s “buy in”, is un­clear.”

Asked about the ref­er­ence to “we in INM need to han­dle it very care­fully”, Buck­ley said this was a ref­er­ence to how he and O’Brien were anx­ious that Har­ris had a con­tin­u­ing role at APN post the exit of INM.

O’Brien was not asked about the exchange by Dren­nan as he is not an of­fi­cer of INM and Dren­nan had no right to ask him for in­for­ma­tion. Nor has he re­sponded over the past two weeks to me­dia re­quests for comment about what is hap­pen­ing at INM. If in­spec­tors are ap­pointed, they will have the power to ques­tion O’Brien or order him to pro­duce doc­u­ments if they be­lieve he has rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion.

New­stalk

In or around Septem­ber 2016, a pro­posal was made to INM that it buy the New­stalk ra­dio sta­tion. The sta­tion is one of those owned by O’Brien by way of his Com­mu­ni­corp group, which also in­cludes 98FM and To­day FM. New­stalk is loss-mak­ing but it was con­sid­ered by INM that the trans­ac­tion could in­volve in­ter­est­ing “syn­er­gies” with its news­pa­per and on­line news op­er­a­tions. Where a chasm ex­isted be­tween the two sides, how­ever, was over the price.

INM got ad­vice from Davy stock­bro­kers who sug­gested the sta­tion could be worth around ¤12 mil­lion, pos­si­bly ¤14 mil­lion. Com­mu­ni­corp had a val­u­a­tion from Dublin cor­po­rate fi­nance op­er­a­tion IBI, that the sta­tion could be worth up to ¤35 mil­lion. Ac­cord­ing to Pitt and INM chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Ryan Pre­ston, they were be­ing pushed by Buck­ley to ap­prove the deal at the higher price, even though it was more Buck­ley’s form to push ex­ec­u­tives to re­duce the price they were pay­ing for ser­vices or as­sets be­ing bought by INM.

Texts quoted in the Dren­nan af­fi­davit in­clude one be­tween Buck­ley and the chair of Com­mu­ni­corp, Lucy Gaffney, who is a long-time busi­ness as­so­ciate of both Buck­ley and O’Brien and was a former di­rec­tor of INM, where she was an O’Brien nom­i­nee. The text was sent on Septem­ber 19th, 2016, soon after the pro­posed sale was first mooted.

“Hi Lucy I met with Robert when I got back this af­ter­noon and there won’t be any an­nounce­ment this week as he is gone away to con­sider after my chat with him. Very en­thu­si­as­tic about the meet­ing last week but un­der­stand­ably con­cerned about the price re­quired Les­lie.”

Pitt had strong con­cerns about the price be­ing pro­posed and dis­cussed the mat­ter with INM’s ad­vis­ers, Davy (see panel on page 1). At one stage, ac­cord­ing to Dren­nan’s af­fi­davit, it was sug­gested by Buck­ley that Davy could be pressed to in­crease its val­u­a­tion of New­stalk (this did not hap­pen). It is also stated that, dur­ing one meet­ing when Buck­ley was press­ing his se­nior ex­ec­u­tives to go with the deal, he said: “Do you not get it lads?”

In the event the deal did not go ahead. In Novem­ber Pitt ap­proached Kennedy and said he was mak­ing a pro­tected dis­clo­sure about the mat­ter. Kennedy, ac­cord­ing to Dren­nan, wanted at first to treat the is­sue as a hu­man re­sources prob­lem. But Pitt made an in­ter­nal INM pro­tected dis­clo­sure.

On De­cem­ber 5th, Pre­ston also made a pro­tected dis­clo­sure. His was made to INM di­rec­tor Len O’Ha­gan, and it sup­ported what Pitt had said in re­la­tion to the New­stalk is­sue.

On the val­u­a­tion that had been put on New­stalk by IBI, Pre­ston said he thought it was “crazy” and that the logic used to sup­port the val­u­a­tion was “bor­der­ing on in­sult­ing”. He even thought the Davy val­u­a­tion was “ex­ces­sive”.

The Pro­tected Dis­clo­sures Act of 2014 is de­signed to pro­tect so-called whistle­blow­ers who draw at­ten­tion to ap­par­ent prob­lems in the work­place. The Act pro­hibits sack­ing or re­tal­i­at­ing against employees who make qual­i­fy­ing dis­clo­sures. As well as be­ing the law, INM had its own poli­cies on whistle­blow­ing and the pro­tec­tion of those mak­ing qual­i­fy­ing dis­clo­sures.

Dis­clo­sure

On Novem­ber 11th, 2016, Pitt made an in­ter­nal INM qual­i­fy­ing dis­clo­sure to INM non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Kennedy. Ac­cord­ing to Dren­nan, Kennedy at first wanted to treat the mat­ters raised as a hu­man re­sources is­sue, but Pitt did not be­lieve this was an ad­e­quate re­sponse.

Also on Novem­ber 11th, ac­cord­ing to Dren­nan’s af­fi­davit, Buck­ley sent a text to O’Brien say­ing that he would go with “plan A” in re­la­tion to the dis­pute that had erupted within INM be­tween Buck­ley and Pitt over the pro­posed New­stalk deal.

O’Brien’s re­sponse, at 21.40, was brief: “Les­lie su­per Mun­ster win.. thanks for text.. go with Ed Mol­loy?? Re­gards De­nis.”

Forty min­utes later Buck­ley re­sponded in turn: “Thanks De­nis and great win Re­gards Les­lie.”

Mol­loy is a well-known and highly re­garded man­age­ment con­sul­tant. The me­di­a­tion never went ahead.

The INM board cre­ated a sub­com­mit­tee of its mem­bers com­pris­ing Terry Buck­ley, Jerome Kennedy, Allen Marshall, and Len O’Ha­gan. It was called the Dis­clo­sures Com­mit­tee and it con­sid­ered Pitt’s state­ment and heard from Buck­ley. The com­mit­tee met over two days in late Novem­ber and con­cluded on the sec­ond day that noth­ing had been dis­closed by Pitt that raised se­ri­ous con­cerns for the com­pany. It then, ac­cord­ing to Dren­nan, cit­ing a note kept by INM solic­i­tors McCann Fitzger­alds, im­me­di­ately ad­dressed it­self to get­ting rid of Pitt.

Ac­cord­ing to Dren­nan’s af­fi­davit, O’Ha­gan sent a text to Buck­ley on Novem­ber 28th say­ing: “I know its galling for us but I be­lieve we now have to write the cheque and be done with him.”

Buck­ley re­sponded: “I have our le­gal peo­ple work­ing on it.” O’Ha­gan re­sponded: “Good call. Len.” The next day Buck­ley sent a state­ment to Gaffney, the Com­mu­ni­corp di­rec­tor, not­ing that, fol­low­ing ques­tions from The Ir­ish Times, news of a dis­pute was now in the pub­lic do­main. “Now that it is out, the pres­sure goes on Pitt.”

On De­cem­ber 11th, by which time Pre­ston had also made an in­ter­nal INM dis­clo­sure, O’Brien sent a text to Buck­ley; “Les­lie. This storm will pass. I know it is aw­ful for you... but we need to play the long game. This will put pres­sure on the two mal­con­tents... Ul­ti­mately we have to get them out and pay them. Best re­gards. De­nis.”

Buck­ley re­sponded; “Dear De­nis Thanks and I agree with your com­ments. I had a good meet­ing with Paul and I agree with both of you that it will take longer than I had hoped... Re­gards Les­lie”

Pitt was un­happy with the de­ci­sion of the dis­clo­sures com­mit­tee and, after he had threat­ened le­gal ac­tion, it was agreed that an in­de­pen­dent re­viewer would be ap­pointed look into his dis­clo­sure. David By­ers of McCann Fitzger­ald sug­gested that Brian O’Moore SC might con­duct the review, and the board agreed. Pitt and Buck­ley, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, were not part of this se­lec­tion process but, ac­cord­ing to Dren­nan, within min­utes Buck­ley knew of the out­come. He im­me­di­ately con­tacted O’Brien, even though the review was about a pro­posed sale that would, ac­cord­ing to Pitt, have ex­ces­sively re­warded O’Brien at the ex­pense of INM.

“Is against me in a case that De­clan Gan­ley and Com­cast are tak­ing re the mob li­cence,” O’Brien said in a ref­er­ence to O’Moore’s role in lit­i­ga­tion over the 1996 mo­bile phone li­cence award that had been won by O’Brien’s Esat Digi­fone, and lost by a con­sor­tium in­volv­ing Gan­ley. “Avoid if pos­si­ble”

The fol­low­ing day Buck­ley dis­cussed the is­sue with By­ers of McCann Fitzger­ald. Ac­cord­ing to By­ers note, Buck­ley ob­jected to O’Moore act­ing as an in­de­pen­dent me­di­a­tor on the ba­sis that the bar­ris­ter had acted for a com­pany that had a case pend­ing against a busi­ness in which Buck­ley was a share­holder, called Nual­tra.

By­ers, ac­cord­ing to Dren­nan’s af­fi­davit, said this was the type of sit­u­a­tion that bar­ris­ters han­dled all the time, but it was nev­er­the­less agreed that INM would “pur­sue other op­tions.”

In time the com­mit­tee ap­pointed David Bar­niville SC, now a High Court judge, and Stephen Kin­gon, a former managing part­ner of Price wa­ter house Coop­ers in North­ern Ire­land, to con­duct the in­de­pen­dent review. Dren­nan, in his af­fi­davit, ex­presses con­cern about the role ap­par­ently played by O’Brien in “ve­to­ing” O’Moore.

O’Brien and Buck­ley dis­cussed the con­tro­versy and the ap­point­ment by way of texts on De­cem­ber 11th and De­cem­ber 12th. Buck­ley’s re­sponse on De­cem­ber 12th to a text from O’Brien read:

“Hi De­nis. All ok. I met Brian Har­mon this morn­ing and he is very help­ful. The non-ex­ecs [non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors of INM] are meet­ing at 6 pm this even­ing to hope­fully agree Busi­ness Per­son plus lawyer who will do the review. Nigel is fin­ish­ing the state­ment that I will send to you de­spite Man­age­ment not want­ing to this Re­gards Les­lie.”

Brian Har­mon is a pub­lic re­la­tions ad­viser who has been pro­vid­ing ad­vice to O’Brien since the early 2000s. He pro­vided ad­vice to and at­tended along­side former An­glo Ir­ish Bank chair­man, Seán Fitz­patrick, dur­ing the 126-day crim­i­nal trial that ended with the banker be­ing de­clared not guilty in 2017 of al­leged of­fences in­ves­ti­gated by the ODCE. The con­duct of the ODCE in­ves­ti­ga­tion was crit­i­cised by the trial judge and cre­ated a con­tro­versy that called into se­ri­ous ques­tion the agency’s com­pe­tence and fit­ness for pur­pose. The pall from the de­ba­cle still hangs over the agency and the INM in­ves­ti­ga­tion is its high­est pro­file ac­tion since then.

In the event, the in­de­pen­dent review failed to re­solve the “stark con­flict” be­tween what it was told by Pitt and Buck­ley, and could not advance the mat­ter be­cause it was a review, not an inquiry, and the re­view­ers did not feel it was ap­pro­pri­ate for them to cross-ex­am­ine any­one. It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that the pro­posed New­stalk sale never went ahead.

The in­de­pen­dent review was estab­lished in De­cem­ber 2016 and re­ported to the INM board in Au­gust 2017. Mean­while, Pitt had, in late Novem­ber 2016, made a pro­tected dis­clo­sure to the ODCE and Pre­ston had met with Dren­nan at Dren­nan’s re­quest. The fact that there was a rift at the top level of INM and that the topic was the price to be paid for New­stalk in a pro­posed deal that never went ahead, was also by then pub­licly known.

Au­gust 2017

In late 2015, INM re­ceived an in­voice from Trusted Data So­lu­tions, the com­pany that had been in­volved in “in­ter­ro­gat­ing” the data taken from the INM server in 2014. Pitt queried the in­voice as it did not ap­pear to re­late to any work done for INM. The bill was sub­se­quently paid by Blay­don. It is not known when INM be­came aware that Blay­don was owned by O’Brien.

The ten­sions within INM were still very live when the board met on Au­gust 9th, 2017 and ap­proved the spe­cial com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tion that it ac­cept the re­port of the in­de­pen­dent re­view­ers. Pitt com­plained that the re­view­ers had not con­ducted any cross-ex­am­i­na­tions but the board noted the re­view­ers’ po­si­tion that this was not re­quired given their as­signed role. Buck­ley said it was clear the ac­cu­sa­tions made against him had not been up­held. Pitt said his ac­tions in re­la­tion to APN had saved INM ¤1.5 mil­lion. He said he and Pre­ston had acted in good faith and with­out mal­ice.

On the day after the board meet­ing, Pitt made an ad­di­tional dis­clo­sure to the ODCE about the ap­par­ent data breach.

In Oc­to­ber 2017, Pitt, who had ne­go­ti­ated a sub­stan­tial sev­er­ance deal, an­nounced he was leav­ing INM. In Jan­uary of this year it was an­nounced that Buck­ley was to stand down. He left his po­si­tion on March 31st last. Also in Jan­uary four new di­rec­tors were named for the INM board, with Mur­doch MacLen­nan, the former chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Tele­graph Me­dia Group in the UK, tak­ing over from Buck­ley. Pre­ston re­mains with the me­dia group.

The board is re­ceiv­ing le­gal ad­vice on the Dren­nan ap­pli­ca­tion from Paul Gal­lagher SC, Shane Murphy SC, and McCann Fitzger­ald. Dur­ing the week the com­pany sec­re­tary wrote to those on the “per­sons of in­ter­est” list no­ti­fy­ing them that their data on the INM server may have been the sub­ject of an “unau­tho­rised” breach that hap­pened on the in­struc­tions of Buck­ley. It was a very clear state­ment of a po­si­tion on the part of the com­pany against the former chair­man ap­pointed by the group’s largest share­holder.

Buck­ley has said he will “ro­bustly de­fend my po­si­tion against each and ev­ery al­le­ga­tion”. Dren­nan has said his con­cerns about INM per­sist, even though the cen­tral fig­ure in the is­sues high­lighted in his af­fi­davit, has re­signed. INM has felt con­strained legally from com­ment­ing about the al­le­ga­tions set out in the Dren­nan af­fi­davit but no doubt will in time re­spond through the court.

Re­quests for com­ments from INM, O’Brien, Gaffney, Davy, IBI, and Is­land Capital, met with no re­sponse.

O’Brien was not asked about the exchange by Dren­nan as he is not an of­fi­cer of INM and Dren­nan had no right to ask him

I know its galling for us but I be­lieve we now have to write the cheque and be done with him

Dren­nan, in his af­fi­davit, ex­presses con­cern about the role ap­par­ently played by O’Brien in ‘ve­to­ing’ O’Moore

FILE PHO­TO­GRAPH: BRYAN O’BRIEN

Busi­ness­man and INM share­holder De­nis O’Brien and former INM chair­man Les­lie Buck­ley.

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