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#DOBvSBP Denis O'Brien's legal counsel has resumed questioning ex-editor of the Sunday Business Post Ian Kehoe in the High Court. DOB claims he was defamed in SBP articles on March 15, 2015. SBP deny this. Articles were about PwC rpt identifying Ireland's top 22 borrowers in '08
#DOBvSBP Luán Ó Braonáin SC, for DOB, asked IK about his friendship with journalist Tom Lyons. Asked if this would have affected their working relationship as he was TL's boss. IK said it made no difference. IK said he'd converse with all staff and had open door in office for all
#DOBvSBP LOB put it that he and TL were "new to their roles" at the SBP at the time of the publication of the article about the PwC report. IK said he had taken over as editor in Oct 2014 and Tom Lyons started working with SBP in late Jan/early Feb 2015.
#DOBvSBP LOB asked IK when Tom Lyons first came to him about the PwC report. IK said it was around mid-February 2015. He said Lyons explained the outline of the report, why it was important and said that the SBP should cover it.
#DOBvSBP LOB asked if, when Lyons came to him about the report, if Lyons had already had articles written about the PwC report. IK: As I understand it when he came to me, he had the report and not any articles.
#DOBvSBP IK clarified for LOB that Tom Lyons wouldn't have come to him and said 'I have six pages of copy done, can I have six pages'. IK explains they would have worked together on a plan for how they would cover the PwC report
#DOBvSBP LOB put it to IK that Lyons's evidence was he had the report for couple of months, got married in the middle of it and went on honeymoon and that he would have subsequently worked on the report intensely for six weeks. LOB to IK: "Are you saying he didn't tell you that?"
#DOBvSBP IK tells LOB it's "common practice" in newsrooms across Ireland and the world - for newspapers, TV or radio - that journalists work on stories to make sure they're "pitchable" to editors. IK points out Lyons got married at end of Jan, tells LOB he was at the wedding
#DOBvSBP LOB asks IK about conversations he would have had with Lyons in terms of their previous experiences of writing about banks/bailout. IK tells jury he's written a book about Sean Quinn and there was detail in the PwC report about Quinn which he was "completely unaware of"
#DOBvSBP LOB recalls IK saying in his evidence that writing about Denis O'Brien tends to lead to "fire station lights" going off in newsrooms. IK agrees.
#DOBvSBP LOB raises a previous article in the SBP in 2013 (when Cliff Taylor was editor) which claimed Denis O'Brien had defaulted in his tax affairs and was being pursued by the C&AG. IK: The article was incorrect.
#DOBvSBP LOB asks IK if it was fair of Michael McDowell SC, for the SBP, referring to the wrong claims in this 2013 article as an "unfortunate incident". LOB asks IK if that does an "injustice" to what happened. IK said from his perspective it was "very unfortunate".
#DOBvSBP LOB: "Let's be clear, it wasn't written about you, it was written by you." Jury hears after publication of this wrong claim, SBP had to apologise to Denis O'Brien and the the SBP had to make a charitable donation to a charity of DOB's choice which was Suicide and Survive
#DOBvSBP IK: We said something about Denis O'Brien that simply wasn't true. LOB asks IK what steps were taken to verify the story. IK says paper rang the Revenue Commissioners for a comment, they wouldn't, and they rang DOB representative and they also said they wouldn't comment
#DOBvSBP LOB says this was a story for which the SBP had no verification. He says there are dozens of "Denis O'Briens" in the phonebook - "at least over 50 and that's without mobile phones"
#DOBvSBP IK repeats that a colleague of his at the newspaper asked Denis O'Brien's spokesperson for a comment and he said he wasn't commenting. IK says the week this occurred, he was in the State filming but that he had "got a tip"
#DOBvSBP LOB: The tip is a hearsay...the fact of the matter is you got it wrong and you hadn't any verification for what you published. IK: That's correct. It was so serious we gave 20% of the front page over to an apology to Denis O'Brien [under editorship of Cliff Taylor]
#DOBvSBP Michael McDowell SC, for SBP, points out that the term 'unfortunate incident' in relation to this incident was HIS term and not that of Ian Kehoe.
#DOBvSBP Ian Kehoe also tells the jury that he personally made a donation to the Sunday Business Post at that time, out of his own money, "because I made a mistake".
#DOBvSBP LOB points out that IK has previously stated that there is a "fear in relation to Denis O'Brien". He raises a separate 2013 article written by Tom Lyons and Nick Webb in the Sunday Independent about the top 13 borrowers in Anglo in which Denis O'Brien was named
#DOBvSBP LOB says he wants to suggest to IK these were two examples (SBP article in 2013 and one in the Sindo in 2013) of occasions where there was "no stoking of the fire of fear of Denis O'Brien and litigation". IK clarifies for the jury that he wasn't working for Sindo in 2013
#DOBvSBP LOB recalls evidence previously given by Tom Lyons in which, LOB said, Tom Lyons said that the credit/risk rating of the borrowers wasn't explained in the PwC report. LOB said Tom Lyons (and the jury) were then shown this:
#DOBvSBP IK says he could recall this event and it was quite high drama. LOB says the reason it was "dramatic" was because Lyons said in evidence risk ratings weren't weren't detailed in PwC report but this section of the report (given to Banking Inquiry) showed risk ratings
#DOBvSBP [NOTE: When Tom Lyons gave evidence about this, he explained to the jury that the report he got was black and white and NOT in colour. The image (tweeted earlier) shows risk ratings are colour-coded]
#DOBvSBP IK says if he's honest, and from a personal point of view, this is the first time he and Tom Lyons have been in a witness box in the High Court and this sheet "was thrown up to him" and he was asked a string of questions. IK clarifies he meant "handed to him".
#DOBvSBP The jury hears AGAIN neither SBP counsel or O'Brien's counsel has the PwC report. It also hears the only thing the court has is this page from the Banking Inquiry and only way one can O'Brien had a "positive risk rating" was because he had a green dot [DOB is 10 on list]
#DOBvSBP IK agrees with LOB saying that the PwC report copy which Lyons got was a photocopied copy. IK tells LOB he didn't make any copies of Lyons's copy to ensure full protection of thesource.
#DOBvSBP IK says he went through both the report and articles line by line. He said he knew there was mention of risk ratings in Tom's copy but IK explained that as the report was from 2008 and the date of publication was 2015 - the SBP had benefit of seven years on their side
#DOBvSBP IK said some the SBP had the current situation and facts of 2015. He said, for example, in case of Denis O'Brien - he was given a great risk rating and this "turned out to be correct" but he said it might not have.
#DOBvSBP IK: We were happy to say he had repaid his debt and was Bank of Ireland and AIB's best customer
#DOBvSBP LOB asked IK if he asked Tom Lyons to get a colour copy of the PwC report. IK says Lyons got a "very secret copy from a source, who I don't know" and that source "went to a great deal" to get it out. IK: "It didn't occur to me to asked Tom Lyons to ask for a colour copy"
#DOBvSBP LOB: Let's assume that the source went out on a limb to get this to Tom Lyons...Colour printers are available to everyone right?. IK: Maybe...I don't know the specifics of Tom's source, I didn't ask.
#DOBvSBP LOB: If one had access to this report and it's believed to be so important, it has to be be made public, do you not think they'd make it coloured? IK: Someone went really out on a limb to get a really important document out there. LOB: I'm just amazed...
#DOBvSBP IK: I've had sources come in wearing balaclavas to protect their identity. LOB: Were they black and white balaclavas? IK: Just black. People go to great lengths to protect their own privacy and Tom Lyons goes to great lengths to protect his sources.
#DOBvSBP LOB: If you're the editor who's responsible for the product published, you're in a posit to say to Tom Lyons to get a colour copy.... IK: I would have assumed if our source was able to give a colour copy...he would have given a colour copy
#DOBvSBP IK: I swore on a bible... I didn't have a colour copy. LOB later claims IK said 'it IS in black and white'. IK says that was his play on words and that his POINT was black and white.
#DOBvSBP LOB asks IK when he and Tom Lyons first discussed shredding the report. IK says it was either Monday or Tuesday, it's his recollection it was Monday but it's Lyons's recollection it was Tuesday.
#DOBvSBP Asked who contacted him from Banking Inquiry (seeking a copy of the PwC report - which the SBP couldn't provide as it was shredded), IK says he won't disclose who asked him. LOB asks when he was asked, IK says it was a number of weeks after publication of the articles
#DOBvSBP IK says the request came by way of a call to his mobile phone. He said he told the person asking that no he wouldn't be giving it to the inquiry and that it was shredded. Jury hears it was a politician who had asked IK for the report.
#DOBvSBP LOB argued that the identification of the PwC document wouldn't necessarily have lended to the identification of the source. IK: I don't know the intricate details of how the report was circulated, to whom and in what form and I didn't ask
#DOBvSBP LOB says this was a 7-year-old report and to assess how many hands it would have passed through would have been "very difficult". IK says it was a very confidential report, this was the first time it was being published and "a great lid had been kept on it for years"
#DOBvSBP LOB asks IK about "Mission Impossible"-style identifiers on reports - harking back to evidence of Tom Lyons (who said he was afraid there were secret identifiers on there report and that's why he shredded it).
#DOBvSBP IK: I've certainly come across it in other reports and even spoken to people about the process and how it's done. IK says sometimes the numbers can be different, there could be an extra decimal point or zero (so that a document can have an individual identity)
#DOBvSBP LOB asks if that means that the PwC's report's numbers in relation to Denis O'Brien could be different/changed. IK: I don't think the report would make changes in relation to individuals. LOB: How do you know?..You don't know what changes could have been made?
#DOBvSBP LOB goes back to legal correspondence between SBP counsel and that of Denis O'Brien. LOB claims that SBP's counsel said, in writing, that the PwC report or "contents of the report" would be relied upon by SBP to set out their defence for publication of articles
#DOBvSBP McDowell SC, for SBP, tells jury: It was never suggested that the report would be produced. Never." LOB says the legal correspondence shows the SBP said the "contents of the report" would be relied upon for their public interest defence.
#DOBvSBP McDowell says LOB is implying that it was indicated that the report would be produced and this is NOT what was said. He asks for clarity. LOB says that the "impression given" is that the "report would form the basis" of a public interest defence.
#DOBvSBP McDowell says if it's being suggested that there was a report "still available" at the time of this legal correspondence, "that is not the case, judge". Judge tells LOB: "I think whatever you're suggesting has to be proved."
#DOBvSBP LOB says the legal correspondence didn't say the report was shredded..."they say there's a report". Judge: They say the articles are based on a report. LOB repeats that the SBP's counsel didn't make it clear that the report was shredded.
#DOBvSBP The jury hears that the legal counsel for Denis O'Brien wrote a letter to SBP for a copy of the PwC report on Jan 8, 2019.
#DOBvSBP LOB held up the front page of the SBP from March 15, 2015. It had red letters in the sub-headline. LOB says it "doesn't quite make it a red top" but says it was done in the "flavour of a tabloid" - on account of the red letting. IK: No, it's a style we use a lot.
#DOBvSBP IK: It's designed to catch the attention of people. LOB: To titillate would have been my word. IK: To capture attention would be mine. LOB: To get attention? IK: There's always the hope.
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