Former INM executives to receive information on data probes

The High Court wants Leslie Buckley, former chief executive of Independent News and Media (INM), and the Mediahuis Ireland Group to provide descriptions of certain documents they may have obtained as part of a statutory inquiry into a data breach at INM in 2014.

Gavin O’Reilly, former CEO of INM, and Karl Brophy, former INM director of corporate affairs, are suing Mr Buckley and Mediahuis, who bought INM in 2019, over the alleged data breach.

In a pre-trial motion, they also sought disclosure of documents, including some resulting from a court-ordered investigation by inspectors following a request from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) into the matter.

This includes correspondence, minutes of hearings, expert reports and draft statutory reports to be submitted to the High Court.

Yesterday, Judge Garrett Simons said the inspection documents over which Mediahuis and Mr Buckley claim a “privilege of public interest” have reached the threshold of relevance and necessity and are “very likely” to provide the plaintiffs with a contested advantage .

The judge said he would later decide which of the sought-after documents were privileged, but he first wanted the defendants to submit an affidavit describing the documents subject to the privilege claim.

For the avoidance of doubt, the judge emphasized that his decision made no determination as to the content of the right to privilege in the public interest.

Mr O’Reilly and Mr Brophy are suing the company, now Mediahuis, and Mr Buckley for an alleged violation of their privacy and data protection rights in what they call a “hack”.

Mr. Buckley disputes the description “hack” because a hack typically involves someone outside of an organization gaining access to data, while he (Buckley) says he was an executive directing the retrieval of information.

Mr O’Reilly and Mr Brophy allege it was part of a clandestine operation directed by Mr Buckley on behalf of then INM majority shareholder Denis O’Brien and disguised as a cost-cutting operation. The defendants dispute the claims.

In another matter, the judge denied Mr Buckley’s request for a deadline of 2016 or 2017 for documents he is required to produce as part of the investigation. Mr. Buckley is required to disclose all documents up to the point when Mr. Brophy and Mr. O’Reilly first threatened to sue him in March 2020, except for documents related to the ongoing inspection process.

The case will be heard again in court in January. Former INM executives to receive information on data probes

Fry Electronics Team

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