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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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Clerys workers heckle and criticise director of property firm at High Court

The High Court today heard about a pack containing employee’s details that led to the inspection of D2 Private Ltd.

The clock at Clerys Department Store
The clock at Clerys Department Store
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

A ‘DIRECTORS PACK’ containing financial details about the iconic Clerys department store and its workforce was one of the reasons why inspectors sought documents at the offices of a Dublin-based property company, the High Court has heard.

The inspectors, who are conducting an ongoing investigation into the collective redundancy of the store’s 460 workers in June 2015, claim the pack was issued by D2 Private before the group of companies that owned and operated Clerys was sold to a joint venture called Natrium by its previous owners the US Gordon Brothers group.

Natrium is a joint venture made up of Cheyne Capital Management in the UK, and a company of Ms Deirdre Foley who is the owner of property firm D2 Private Ltd.

Heckles 

At the High Court today Ms Foley was criticised and heckled by one of the 460 former Clery’s worker who lost their jobs when the store shut its doors.

Shortly before Mr Justice Michael Twomey rose at 4pm 64-year-old John Crowe from Artane, told the court he had worked at the Department Store for 43 years before it closed.

After all the years of service with the store he said he had to make an appointment so he could get personal items out of his locker four weeks after the closure.

An emotional Mr Crowe said he had been left with nothing adding all he had in is pocket was €6 and he could not afford the bus fare to come to court. He also said he hoped the courts give out better treatment than “the way I have been treated.”

Outside of the courtroom Mr Crowe was vocally critical of Ms Foley. Surrounded by her legal team Ms Foley left the precinct of the courthouse without comment.

What was in the pack? 

The pack contained detailed information including financial statements and accounts of the company that operated Clerys OCS Operations Ltd as well as the employee’s names, their dates of birth, their years of service, holiday entitlements and their total earnings.

The inspectors, appointed by the Workplace Relations Commission,  are opposing a challenge brought by D2 and Ms Foley against the WRC concerning the powers of the inspectors, who seized documents and a computer from D2′s offices in May.

Shane Murphy SC for the WRC and the inspectors  said the inspectors attended at D2 Private offices as part of their investigation into  what has become a complex matter.

The inspectors sought materials from D2 after being made aware of the pack, which they claim was supplied to directors of OCS Operations Ltd Brendan Cooney and Jim Brydie by an employee of D2 Private Ltd before the takeover by Natrium.

The directors were appointed by Natrium hours after the Clerys takeover. That same day-June 12th 2015- they went to the High Court and sought to have OCS Operations, which was loss making, wound up.

The pack, which contained details about the workers, also contained a watermark linking it to D2 Private.  Counsel also told the court said the investigators rejected claims they have acted outside their remit.

Privileged and confidential material 

They have at all times conducted their investigation in a proper and lawful manner, counsel said.  The applicants were attempting to “unfairly mischaracterise” the investigation, counsel added.

In their challenge D2 Private and Ms Foley say neither they nor Natrium were ever the employer of the Clerys workers. They also say the inspectors were not allowed to take the materials, which they add include privileged and confidential material, and have acted outside the remit of their investigation.

They inspectors, they add are not entitled to rely on provisions of the 1977 Protection of Employment Act and the 2015 Workplace Relations Act to justify the taking of documents from the D2 office.

They seek various orders and declarations including an order that the materials be returned. They are also seeking damages for alleged misfeasance in public office and breach of privacy. The application is being supported by Natrium which is a notice party to the proceedings.

The hearing continues.

Comments on this article have been turned off as it is before the courts. 

Read: These are the people behind the deal that means time’s up for Clerys

Also: Dublin couple, who moved to Thailand to reclaim their son’s child, to lose family home to repossession

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About the author:

Aodhan O Faolain

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