I Won Fair and Square; Challenging the Tribunal: Denis OBrien Said: If You Were Me You Would Be Angry at This Stage Michael Lowry: Very Pleased

Daily Mail (London), May 3, 2008 | Go to article overview

I Won Fair and Square; Challenging the Tribunal: Denis OBrien Said: If You Were Me You Would Be Angry at This Stage Michael Lowry: Very Pleased


Byline: Sandra Murphy

TELECOMS tycoon Denis OBrien launched a fresh broadside on the MoriartyTribunal last night, as he insisted he won the States second mobile phonelicence fair and square.

The billionaire spoke out after his lawyer had grilled economist Dr Peter Baconat the tribunal.

The economic consultant was being questioned on his role in an inquiry into thegranting of the licence to Mr OBriens Esat consortium in 1995.

But the move appeared to backfire yesterday when Dr Bacon criti-cised theprocess that awarded the licence to Mr OBrien.

Arriving at Dublin Castle for yesterdays session, Mr OBrien told reporters thatit was going to be a landmark day in the history of the payments-to-politiciansinquiry.

He said: Well, its a very important day, first of all because the tribunalwants to shut down Bacon. They dont want his evidence to be heard and they, atthe last minute, then have allowed for him to come and give evidence.

But they are saying they want to curtail his evidencein other words the questions our legal counsel will be able to ask Dr Baconabout his work for the tribunal. So its all a little bit sinister.

He added: Its a pretty landmark day in the history of this tribunal, going onfor 11 years.

The inquirys long-awaited second report will deal with whether the licence wasawarded in corrupt circumstances by former communications minister MichaelLowry.

Mr OBrien questioned why witnesses giving evidence previously had not been madeaware of Dr Bacons involvement, at the time.

But when the economist took the stand, he revealed he did not believe themethod used to assess the competition was correct or economically sound. DrBacon criti-cised the way civil servants had set scoring criteria, and how theyhad overruled criteria set by the Danish consultants hired to judge thedifferent companies.

Accusing them of plucking a figure from the air, Dr Bacon said he could notunderstand the calculation process applied to the competitioninsisting: I couldnt find any basis in the economic literature for this magicnumber.

He also dismissed criticism from Mr OBriens senior counsel, Eoin McGonigal,that he had been used to prop up the tribunals theory on the evidence.

He said: Ive been around long enough to know when Ive been led by the nose. Imknown around town and have a reputation as an independent. Im an economicconsultant not a lobbyist.

Mr McGonigal suggested the tribunal was leading Dr Bacon to a position byproviding him with just a specific number of documents. …

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