Sean FitzPatrick can get fair trial from impartial jury, rules judge
A JUDGE has ruled that Sean FitzPatrick can get a fair trial from an impartial jury despite eight years of bad publicity.
Judge Martin Nolan rejected an application from lawyers defending the former Anglo Irish Bank chairman who were seeking an adjournment of his trial because of a recent case involving other Anglo officials.
The trial and convictions of the officials resulted in a "cascade of sludge" being visited on the head of Mr FitzPatrick, Bernard Condon, defending, told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
He submitted that this recent adverse publicity would be fresh in the minds of the public and meant that his client could not get a fair trial until the memory of this has faded.
Mr Condon argued that a trial on October 5 would be a "deeply flawed" process.
Mr FitzPatrick (66), of Whitshed Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow, had pleaded not guilty to 27 offences under the 1990 Companies Act. These included 21 charges of making a misleading, false or deceptive statement to auditors and six charges of furnishing false information.
Judge Nolan said this morning that a fade-out of publicity was not possible for Mr FitzPatrick.
He said his case was unique in legal history because he has been the subject of "huge criticism, ridicule and odium since 2008".
He said he believed he could rely on a jury to listen to the evidence and follow instructions and base their verdict on what they heard during the trial alone.
"Mr FitzPatrick's reputation is negative at this stage. It seems to be that the trial should go ahead," he said.
The trial is listed to start at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on October 5.
Mr FitzPatrick is accused of failing to disclose to Anglo's auditors, Ernst & Young, the true amount of loans to him or people connected with him.
The prosecution claims he authorised arrangements to ensure that the balance of those loans would be reduced or appear to be reduced at the end of the bank's financial year and failed to tell the auditors about those arrangements.
He is also accused of failing to tell the auditors about arrangements between Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society in connection with loans to him by Irish Nationwide.
He is further accused of producing financial statements about the value of loans to Anglo's directors that failed to include the true amounts outstanding by him to the bank.