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Defence Forces officer launches court challenge over report into corruption allegations

A report into the allegations made by Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Lane has not been published.

File photo
File photo
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

A SENIOR OFFICER with the Defence Forces has launched a High Court challenge over the State’s refusal to provide him with an independent report into allegations he made about corruption and misconduct within the military.

The action has been brought by Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Lane, who said he had raised “genuine concerns” that preferential treatment was being afforded to another member of the Defence Forces to the detriment of others members.

In 2010 he attempted to raise the issue through the chain of military command as the other member was selected for, but ultimately did not get, a senior position Lane said the other person was ineligible for.

Lane, from Bandon in Cork, made a protected disclosure to members of Seanad Éireann regarding his concerns and the issues were raised in the Seanad in 2011.

Arising out of the disclosure, Lane said he was subjected to a range of penalties including the threat of dismissal and involuntary retirement from the Defence Forces. Those threats were subsequently set aside.

Arising out of his complaints, the Minister for Defence in 2016 appointed Colm Smyth SC to conduct an independent review into Lane’s allegations.

Sealed file 

Represented by Thomas Creed SC, instructed by solicitor Kieran McCarthy, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan was told at the High Court yesterday that Lane cooperated with the investigations and furnished a 137-page submission.

He did raise some issues with the Minister for Defence but at no stage did he ask for the review to be terminated. He sought a copy of the report and, when it was not forthcoming, Lane wrote to the former Taoiseach Enda Kenny seeking his intervention.

Counsel said his client was informed last June that, because of issues he had raised, the Department of Defence would not be placing any reliance on Smyth’s report, it would not be published and would be kept in a sealed file.

A fresh review, to be conducted by Frank Callanan SC, into the allegations was established. Counsel said Lane wants to have sight of the first report as any findings or conclusions in it could affect his reputation. The decision to refuse to give it to Lane breaches his constitutional rights and was in breach of fair procedures, counsel added.

The decision to refuse his access and proceed with a fresh review was also irrational, unfair and amounted to an inequality of arms, it was further submitted.

In his action against the Minister for Defence, Ireland and the Attorney General, Lane seeks an order quashing the refusal to provide him with a copy of the first report, and that he be provided with a copy of said report.

He is also seeking damages and a declaration that the respondents have acted unlawfully and in excess of jurisdiction by failing to provide him with a copy of the report of the first independent review.

Permission to bring the application was granted on an ex-parte basis by Mr Justice Noonan. The judge made the matter returnable to a date in February.

Comments are closed due to ongoing legal proceedings. 

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Aodhan O Faolain

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