Belfast Telegraph

INM tries for 'knockout' on watchdog

Independent House, Dublin, headquarters of INM.
Independent House, Dublin, headquarters of INM.

By Shane Phelan

Independent News & Media (INM) is taking a legal action in a bid to deal a "knockout blow" to the appointment of inspectors in the Irish Republic to investigate corporate governance issues.

The President of the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, heard the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) was concerned the company's affairs had been conducted in "an unlawful manner".

Neil Steen SC, for the ODCE, said there were concerns actions had taken place that were unfairly prejudicial to some shareholders in INM, owners of the Irish Independent and Belfast Telegraph.

Yesterday's hearing was initially expected to deal with an application for the appointment of a barrister and a solicitor as inspectors.

However, the court heard INM filed an affidavit shortly before the hearing opposing that application.

Lawyers for the media group also indicated they wanted a judicial review of the decision by the ODCE to seek the appointment of inspectors.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said that if the media group succeeds in its judicial review proceedings it would deal "a knockout blow" to the application for the appointment of inspectors.

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Shane Murphy SC, for INM, said his clients were objecting to the appointment of inspectors, given the impact it would have on the company. The barrister said INM believed its rights to fair procedures were breached.

Meanwhile, businessman Denis O'Brien has accused the ODCE of leaking information in court papers related to its application to have inspectors appointed to INM.

Mr O'Brien claimed he has been subjected to extraordinary and intensifying levels of media coverage which suggests he was involved in wrongdoing. He referred to the trial of former Anglo chief executive Sean FitzPatrick. This trial collapsed and Mr FitzPatrick was acquitted after it emerged documents had been shredded by the ODCE's lead investigator.

Belfast Telegraph