herald

Saturday 24 August 2019

Counsel to probe why Bailey sought higher costs

Maria Bailey fell from a swing
Maria Bailey fell from a swing

The senior counsel appointed to examine the Maria Bailey controversy is likely to probe why she did not pursue her case in the District Court where awards are lower.

The TD has withdrawn her claim against the Dean Hotel over injuries she is alleged to have suffered when she fell from a swing.

Fine Gael announced senior counsel David Kennedy had been appointed to undertake an internal review "to establish all the facts".

One issue likely to be probed is why, given her insistence she was seeking only €7,000, Ms Bailey did not pursue her case in the District Court, which has jurisdiction to award up to €15,000.

Instead, the case was taken at Circuit Court level, where personal injury awards can be up to €60,000. Also, the claim filed on the TD's behalf did not state she was seeking only medical expenses.

It outlined how, in addition to medical costs, she was seeking damages for personal injury, loss, damage and inconvenience. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was briefed about correspondence between Ms Bailey and the Dean Hotel before launching a probe into her compensation claim.

The briefing included references to how much compensation the TD was looking for in her now abandoned personal injuries action.

Substantial

In two interviews given by Ms Bailey since controversy flared over the case, she has claimed the most she was seeking was €7,000, for medical expenses.

However, this has not been confirmed by the Dublin hotel.

It said it offered to pay Ms Bailey's certified medical expenses, but when she asked for what was described as "a substantial sum", the matter was handed over to its solicitors.

The Herald has learned that a Fine Gael official sought to establish certain facts in connection with the matter, and that their findings were passed to members of the party hierarchy and the Taoiseach's office.

The information included details of a letter sent by Ms Bailey in January 2016, six months after the fall, in which she returned a cheque for €600 to the hotel. In the letter, the TD is understood to have outlined what in her view was the likely cost of medical treatment.

The briefing occurred prior to Mr Varadkar's meeting with Ms Bailey on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Ms Bailey's standing in the party is at rock bottom after almost a fortnight of controversy.

Sources say there was "no clash" when she met Mr Varadkar on Wednesday - but he is known to be privately furious about the case.

He has asked TDs not to make the situation worse by publicly admonishing her, and said they should show her "respect". However, over the course of the week, a string of ministers - including Paschal Donohoe, Simon Harris and Heather Humphreys - tried to distance the Government from her actions.

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