herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Sports council probe into funds allegation quashed

IRISH Sports Council (ISC) board member John Byrne has won his High Court action against the council's decision to investigate him on allegations of wrongdoing.

Mr Justice Michael Peart said the ISC's decision to appoint an investigator to probe complaints against Mr Byrne by the Football Association of Ireland regarding funding had to be quashed. Mr Justice Peart, in a reserved judgment, said the board did not have the power to investigate one of its members.

Mr Byrne was appointed to the council by the Sports Minister in 2009. The ISC's responsibilities include funding and anti-doping.

He is the chief executive officer of the Community Games; a sports and public affairs consultant; a board member of the Health and Safety Authority and a former director of Special Projects with the FAI.

The High Court had heard that the investigation was opened earlier this year after the ISC received a letter from the FAI concerning a number of e-mails allegedly from Mr Byrne regarding funding matters.

The FAI claimed that the content of what it said were "extremely serious" e-mails amounted to a grave and improper interference by Mr Byrne in the funding process.

Arising out of the complaint on April 16 last, the ISC appointed a former Director of Corporate Enforcement to conduct an investigation.

Unjust

Mr Byrne, who denies any wrongdoing, claimed the investigation was unjust, lacked fair procedures and alleged that the board lacked the jurisdiction to conduct an investigation.

Mr Byrne had stated he also feared the allegations against him were being prejudged and that he would be forced to resign from the board.

The ISC had opposed Mr Byrne's action.

Judge Peart said it was not intended under the 1999 Sports Council Act that the council should have the power to investigate a council member.

Only the minister had the power to remove a board member from office.

hnews@herald.ie

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