High Court begins hearing INM challenge to corporate watchdog investigation

The ODCE has raised many concerns about the way INM is run

High Court begins hearing INM challenge to corporate watchdog investigation

File photo of Independent House newspaper offices on Talbot Street Dublin, 26-03-2018

The High Court has begun hearing Independent News and Media’s challenge to a decision made by the State’s corporate watchdog to apply for inspectors to look into its affairs.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) has raised many concerns about the way Independent News and Media (INM) is run.

In a 200-page sworn affidavit, the Director of Corporate Enforcement outlined his worries - and noted an alleged data breach at the newspaper publisher.

Ian Drennan said he had “significant concerns” as to why data was removed from INM’s server and passed on to a third party for interrogation.

He also claimed INM’s former chairman passed “inside information” to the company’s majority shareholder Denis O’Brien.

Mr Drennan was due to apply last month to have two inspectors appointed to look into its affairs, but it was put on hold after lawyers for INM indicated their intention to challenge the very decision to bring the application in the first place.

Opening that challenge this morning, INM’s barrister Paul Gallagher said the decision was “a bolt out of the blue” and given the adverse impact on the company, he said they should been notified and given a chance to respond.

“Natural justice is about fairness,” he said, “and fairness was missing here.”

The hearing is due to take two days.