Director of State Claims Agency says Vicky Phelan "should never have been before the courts"

Ciaran Breen says they did "everything in our power to prevent" it going to court

Director of State Claims Agency says Vicky Phelan "should never have been before the courts"

Vicky Phelan speaks outside the Four Courts, 25-04-2018. Image: Frank Greaney

The Director of the State Claims Agency says Vicky Phelan should never have been before the courts after taking a case over her cervical cancer misdiagnosis.

Ciaran Breen has told an Oireachtas Committee he deplores the fact that she was not told the results of an audit into her smear in 2014.

However, he said that the failure to disclose did not change her clinical outcome.

Ten similar cases are currently before the State Claims Agency.

Mr Breen told the Oireachtas Finance Committee that three of the women out of the ten pending cases have died.

He says none of the other cases should end up in court, after the Taoiseach asked that they be dealt with more compassionately.

He explained: "We would take very seriously the Taoiseach's remarks, and do everything we possibly can to ensure that other families who were involved in these ten cases won't suffer the same trauma.

"None of these cases should go to trial - that's the reality. In three of the cases, the US laboratory has already indemnified the agency."

He added: "Vicky Phelan should never have been before the courts. We, the agency, did everything in our power to prevent that."

Questioned over why the case went to court before being settled, he explained: "Our expert evidence, and Vicky Phelan's expert evidence was that the non-disclosure point - albeit a terrible point, and I deplore the fact that she wasn't told - didn't actually change her clinical outcome. That was agreed by her expert, and our expert.

"The only reason that this went to trial was because the US laboratory, their solicitors, could not get sufficient instructions at a point in time... and then did, and made the offer in the case."

Separately, Mr Breen also confirmed that all of the cases before the State Claims Agency as a result of cancer misdiagnosis involve American labs.

The comments come as inquiry into the Cervical Check scandal is beginning its work, after ministers signed off on it at Cabinet.