herald

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Journalist says claims over McCabe file 'false'

Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine arrive at the tribunal. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Dublin
Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine arrive at the tribunal. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Dublin
Journalist Paul Williams vehemently denied suggestions that he was ‘too close’ to Garda Headquarters

The journalist who interviewed the young woman who made a sexual assault allegation against Sgt Maurice McCabe has rejected suggestions he was given a garda file on the case.

Irish Independent correspondent Paul Williams said he was aware of the suggestion but described it as being "completely baseless and false".

Appearing at the Disclosures Tribunal, Mr Williams also vehemently denied suggestions he was "too close" to Garda Headquarters.

He said he was never briefed by Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan, former commissioner Martin Callinan or former Garda press officer David Taylor in relation to rumours which circulated about Sgt McCabe.

Mr Williams said he was contacted directly by Ms D's father and told she wished to speak to him.

Rumours

While he had been aware of "vague rumours" circulating about Sgt McCabe, he did not know what Ms D had alleged against him until he interviewed her in March 2014.

Mr Williams said he did not know where the rumours had come from.

Two articles were published in the Irish Independent the following month referring to an unnamed woman who believed her complaint of sexual assault against an unnamed garda had not been properly investigated.

The tribunal has previously heard how, as a teenager, Ms D complained to gardai in 2006 that she had been molested by Sgt McCabe when she was aged six or seven during a game of hide and seek.

The complaint was investigated but no prosecution was directed by the DPP.

The tribunal is investigating whether there was a conspiracy against Sgt McCabe and if the allegation was used by senior gardai to smear him.

Mr Williams said Ms D was "upset" as media reports of Sgt McCabe's whistleblowing activity had "brought it all up again".

Under questioning from tribunal counsel Diarmaid McGuinness, Mr Williams said he did not consult with any senior gardai before going to Ms D's family home.

Mr McGuinness said a suggestion might be made Mr Williams in some way acted as "a puppet of the guards in participating, willingly or otherwise, in a smear campaign relating to Sgt McCabe".

Mr Williams said: "I have read that extensively and that is absolutely false."

He added that, about a week after the interview, he contacted Supt Taylor by phone with a series of questions.

He wanted to know had an investigation taken place, what was the decision of the DPP, was there an arrest and was the investigation logged on the Garda Pulse system.

The journalist said Supt Taylor went away to do some research and later came back to him to confirm an investigation took place, a file had been sent to the DPP and no charges were directed.

Mr Williams said there were a number of contacts with the superintendent in relation to his queries.

However, John Ferry, counsel for Supt Taylor, said his client would be disputing this account of events.

He said Supt Taylor would say Mr Williams phoned him on the day he interviewed Ms D and told him he was at Ms D's house.

The barrister said his client would claim Mr Williams "did not ask Supt Taylor to confirm anything specific or to confirm or deny any facts in that call".

Mr Williams said he never called Supt Taylor that day and what the officer was alleging was "totally untrue".

Flabbergasted

The tribunal also heard from a garda superintendent who rejected a claim that he alleged Sgt McCabe watched girls coming out of a secondary school.

The claim emerged in the notes of a Garda Ombudsman investigator who interviewed Ms D.

According to the note, Ms D alleged Det Supt John O'Reilly told her father, also a garda, that "M McC would go to the local secondary school and watch the young ones coming out of the school".

Det Supt O'Reilly said he was "absolutely flabbergasted" by the claim.

"I never said it, nor have I any knowledge about it," he said.

"As far as I am concerned that is not true."

Earlier this week, the tribunal heard evidence from Ms D's father that he discussed his daughter's wish to give an interview to a journalist with Det Supt O'Reilly.

Ms D's father testified that Det Supt O'Reilly, who was a friend, suggested Paul Williams, as he had dealings with him in past.

However, this account was disputed by Det Supt O'Reilly.

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