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Sunday 4 December 2016

Decision due today on FitzPatrick bid to prevent his trial

Sean FitzPatrick
Sean FitzPatrick

The High Court will rule today on former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick's application to permanently prevent his trial before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court from proceeding.

Mr FitzPatrick is facing a number of charges including making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and of furnishing false information from 2002 to 2007.

The 66-year-old, from Greystones, Co Wicklow, who has pleaded not guilty to 27 charges under the 1990 Companies Act, brought his application due to concerns over what he claims are the large volumes of adverse media publicity he received following a recent, separate trial of three Anglo officials.

His trial has been scheduled to begin on October 5.

He has asked the High Court to make an order permanently prohibiting his trial or, alternatively, granting him an order quashing a decision of Circuit Court Judge Martin Nolan to refuse to adjourn the trial.

The DPP has opposed the action and argues that the trial should proceed.

Yesterday, following legal submissions, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty reserved his decision. He directed that certain matters and details raised during the hearing were not to be published by the media pending his judgment.

Barrister Bernard Condon, for Mr FitzPatrick, told the court his client had been subjected to a level of "odium and ridicule" in the media to the extent he cannot now get a fair trial.

Mr Condon, who appeared with barrister Edward Doocey, said there had been a "cascade of negativity" in the media concerning Mr FitzPatrick, particularly following the trial of three Anglo officials which ended in July. His character had been trashed and he had been called "every name under the sun". The "air of vengeance" stoked up by the media had been extraordinary, he said.

Counsel said that while the main focus of the application was to seek to permanently stop the trial from going ahead, he said that at the very least Mr FitzPatrick was entitled to an adjournment of 12 months.

The DPP had given no good reason why the trial should go ahead in October.

Warnings

Paul O'Higgins, who appeared with barrister Paul Anthony McDermott for the DPP, rejected claims that Mr FitzPatrick could not get a fair trial.

It was the DPP's view that with appropriate directions and warnings from the trial judge and a careful selection process in regard to potential members of the jury, there would be no reason why he would not get a fair trial.

While it would be preferable that a trial take place in some sort of a vacuum, such circumstances were not possible.

It was accepted that there had been much unfavourable publicity about Mr FitzPatrick, but none related to the matters on which he was facing trial.

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