Thursday 14 December 2017

High Court challenge to Guerin report

FORMER Justice Minister Alan Shatter has brought a High Court challenge seeking to quash certain findings of a report critical of his handling of complaints by garda whistle blower Maurice McCabe.

Mr Shatter claims the Guerin report rendered his position as Minister for Justice "untenable" and inflicted "severe and irreversible" damage on him in the political context.

The former cabinet member resigned on May 7 last, a day after publication of the report and claims he was given "no notice whatsoever" that its author, senior counsel Sean Guerin, intended "to pass judgment on my actions as Minister".

Mr Shatter is alleging breach of fair procedures and natural justice and "indecent haste" on the part of Mr Guerin in how he compiled his report between March 4 and publication on May 6 and reached conclusions critical of the Minister, his counsel Patrick O'Reilly SC said in the High Court.

Mr Shatter also alleges Mr Guerin's membership, while preparing his report, of a Bar Council Committee which criticised aspects of Mr Shatter's Legal Services Bill, is among various factors giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias. Mr Shatter stresses he is not alleging actual bias.


A "particularly serious consequence" of Mr Guerin's failure to interview him prior to the report's publication was that he (Guerin) had misread a letter of advice received by the Department of Justice from the Office of the Attorney General on December 18, 2013, concerning the approach to Sergeant McCabe's complaints, it is alleged.

Had the alleged misreading not occurred, Mr Guerin would not have reached certain conclusions adverse to the Minister, it is claimed.

Mr Shatter also alleges Mr Guerin omitted from his report part of the advice which, Mr Shatter claims, recommended the McCabe claims be dealt with in a manner "entirely opposite to the approach subsequently recommended by Mr Guerin".

The disputed conclusions of the report include that Mr Shatter did not cause Sgt McCabe's allegations to be investigated but accepted the Garda Commissioner's response to the sergeant's complaints without question.

The matter comes back before the court in October.


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