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Fraud charge pair win right to fight trials

BUSINESSMAN Jim Kennedy and former FG politician Liam Cosgrave have been given High Court permission to challenge their trials on corruption charges.

In separate proceedings, they want to prevent the trials, due for hearing in the Dublin Circuit Court next October, from going ahead on grounds including that their constitutional rights have been breached.

Mr Cosgrave claims he has already been tried and convicted over the same matter while Mr Kennedy is claiming excessive delay in bringing the prosecution against him.

They face charges in connection with the attempted rezoning of land owned by Jackson Way Properties at Carrickmines in 1992 and the successful rezoning of part of these lands in 1997. Both deny the charges.

Mr Cosgrave (55), a former TD and senator of Merrion Park, Blackrock, Dublin, is charged with receiving money at two Dublin hotels in June 1992 and December 1997.

Mr Kennedy, of Queensway Quay, Gibraltar, faces 16 charges of making corrupt payments to politicians relating to rezoning motions voted on by Dublin County Council and Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council.

Brendan Grehan, counsel for Mr Cosgrave, told the court yesterday the prosecution amounts "to an abuse of process" because his client had already been convicted in 2006 for failing to disclose a political donation. He believed the matter was over.

That offence arose out of "the same factual matrix" upon which the current charges were based, counsel said.

The information, upon which his client is now being prosecuted, was available to the State in 2005. Lobbyist Frank Dunlop was the main prosecution witness in 2006 and is also the main witness in relation to the latest charges, counsel said.





Deaths

Martin Hayden, for Mr Kennedy, said his client's constitutional rights to a fair trial had been breached because there had been an inordinate delay in bringing the charges against Mr Kennedy.

Nineteen years had elapsed between the dates of the alleged offences and the date when Mr Kennedy was charged.

Mr Kennedy also suffered prejudice because of the deaths of several important witnesses including former FF politician Liam Lawlor, counsel said.

Leave to bring the proceedings was granted yesterday by Mr Justice Michael Peart, on an ex parte (one-side only) basis. The cases were made returnable to later this month.

hnews@herald.ie