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Court hears Angela Kerins was asked "an illegal set of questions"

The former CEO of Rehab’s damages action against the Public Accounts Committee continued this morning at the High Court.

File Photo: The High Court heard today that Angela Kerins, the former CEO of the Rehab Group, self-harmed 2 weeks after appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). End. File Photo: Angela Kerins

THE TRIAL, WHICH sees the former CEO of Rehab, Angela Kerins, seek damages from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for the effects on her of a hearing which she attended, today heard that the PAC had made a “tacit admission” that it overextended itself beyond its remit in its questioning.

The court yesterday heard that Ms Kerins had made an attempt on her own life following her seven-hour session in front of the PAC on 27 February 2014, and subsequently resigned as CEO of Rehab on 2 April 2014.

Counsel for Kerins, John Rogers SC, told the court today that in making the following statement at the 27 February session, committee chairman and TD John McGuinness had fundamentally admitted to having overstepped the mark:

“We have acted generally within our remit. We may have gone a little bit beyond it in pursuing salaries and so on, but that was because we wanted to get an overall view of the organisation.”

“If you heard a district judge say that you would be appalled, because if he is not acting within his remit well then he is acting illegally,” Rogers said.

“Tacit admission”

“It is a tacit admission that they were not acting within their remit,” replied the presiding judge, President of the High Court Peter Kelly.

Rogers contended that in asking Kerins what “coaching” she had undergone prior to appearing before the PAC on 27 February, McGuinness had made an “outrageous suggestion”.

Rogers further contended that the PAC’s approach to the issue of Rehab’s finances evolved between the months of February and April 2014 and that Rehab’s executives had “rolled over” in providing information to the PAC that it had no remit to request.

Regarding a legal letter sent to McGuinness prior to the PAC meeting on 10 April 2014, a session that Kerins did not attend, Rogers said that McGuinness had dismissed the letter as belonging in the “nonsense file”.

That letter concerned a leaking of another letter from former Rehab CEO Frank Flannery saying that he was unable to attend the PAC on 10 April to RTÉ.

“I don’t appear for Mr Flannery… but I don’t understand how that response (from McGuinness) could be an appropriate response from a public representative to a legal letter,” Rogers said.

Rogers contended that in persuading Rehab’s remuneration committee to provide details of its board members’ salaries, as mentioned on 10 April at PAC, the Dáil committee had given “the clearest evidence, that the committee was acting outside its jurisdiction, of an abuse of power”.

“Abuse of power”

“My client said to me, and I submit, that this indicates the most egregious abuse of power by a public official.”

“In terms of salaries, we went too far” – he actually says this. And yet here we are, still on salaries. We must consider what the committee is actually doing in terms of the powers conferred on it.

Rogers said that it is Kerins’ position that she appeared before the committee “to help”, and that when she did so “she was castigated”.

He further contended that former TD Áine Collins, in asking a question as to the amount of Rehab’s legal expenses at the 27 February hearing, had strayed into the realms of illegality.

“This is so far removed from the remit of the PAC that it is an illegal set of questions,” he said.

Yesterday, Kerins had submitted in her affidavit that the PAC’s questioning had driven her to attempt to take her own life.

She submitted that on 14 March 2014 she had “attempted self harm”, but was rescued by a concerned colleague who had broken into her home.

In Kerins’ submission, Rogers had argued at length that the PAC’s questioning of Kerins about her salary and bonuses was entirely outside its remit.

Kerins resigned as Rehab CEO on 2 April 2014.

She is seeking aggravated damages from the PAC for being humiliated at the 27 February session, and for the loss of her career.

The case continues.

Comments are closed as the case remains before the courts

Read: “Shane Ross doesn’t take no for an answer” – court hears Dáil committee had no remit to ask about Angela Kerins’ salary

Read: “Look … things happen”: Reilly defends role after ‘clear the air’ Fine Gael meeting

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