Supreme Court Judge Took a Bribe, Flood Inquiry Told; Lurid Claim by James Gogarty Was Reason for Judge Hardiman's Attack

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), April 25, 2010 | Go to article overview

Supreme Court Judge Took a Bribe, Flood Inquiry Told; Lurid Claim by James Gogarty Was Reason for Judge Hardiman's Attack


Byline: Cormac McQuinn

THE Flood Tribunal's star witness, James Gogarty, made sensational allegations that one of the most distinguished Supreme Court judges in the history of the State took a bribe 'over whiskey one night'.

Gogarty's claims were held back by Mr Justice Feargus Flood. On Wednesday in the Supreme Court, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman slated Mr Justice Flood for covering up the evidence, saying the judge had done so 'without justification'.

The hidden evidence to which Mr Justice Hardiman referred, which was uncovered during an appeal by directors of a company criticised by the tridence, who were attempting to recover legal costs, alleged 'serious improprieties' against at least four people who weren't named during the tribunal.

Today, the Irish Mail on Sunday can reveal that one of the four was the late Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice Seamus Henchy. Judge Henchy sat on a broadcasting board with responsibility for State licenses.

The claim was reported by James Gogarty during the Flood Tribunal, which investigated planning corruption in Dublin in the 1980s and 1990s.

Gogarty's evidence aroused controversy in the court when Judge Hardiman described Mr Justice Flood's actions as 'cause for serious concern'.

A source with in-depth knowledge of the Flood Tribunal told the MoS that Gogarty made the claims against Judge Henchy among a raft of allegations he provided to the tribunal.

Mr Justice Henchy had appeared at the tribunal in 2000 to explain his role as chairman of the Independent Radio and Television Commission and the granting of a national broadcasting licence to the ill-fated Century Radio in 1989.

The tribunal was investigating a pay-ment of [pounds sterling]35,000 by one of the backers of the Century Radio bid to then communications minister Ray Burke four months after they won the licence.

A decade later, Burke was forced to resign from government following further revelations at the tribunal and was jailed in 2005 for tax evasion.

During his appearance before the tribunal, Judge Henchy questioned Mr Justice Flood's authority to inquire into the IRTC given the tribunal's remit to investigate corruption in planning, but he answered questions on his post of chairman nonetheless.

Among the allegations Gogarty made to the tribunal was a claim that a businessman friend had confided to him about bribing Judge Henchy 'over whiskey one night'.

It is understood that although Gogarty made allegations of bribery against Mr Justice Henchy, they were dismissed by Mr Justice Flood as the claims were hearsay, were not supported by any evibunal and that he considered them irrelevant in the context of his investigations.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Hardiman appeared to suggest that the tribunal's chair had concealed evidence that was relevant to James Gogarty's credibility as a witness.

But it is understood that Mr Justice Flood had sought to avoid wrongly damaging Judge Henchy's reputation by revealing the unsubstantiated allegations.

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Supreme Court Judge Took a Bribe, Flood Inquiry Told; Lurid Claim by James Gogarty Was Reason for Judge Hardiman's Attack
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