Disclosures tribunal: Martin Callinan told TD that Maurice McCabe was sex abuser, tribunal finds
Charleton finds no evidence Nóirín O’Sullivan played any ‘hand act or part’ in smear campaign
The Charleton Tribunal has found that the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan told a Dáil deputy in early 2014 that whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe had sexually abused his own family.
The tribunal has also said there was a “campaign of calumny against Maurice McCabe by Commissioner Martin Callinan and that in it he was actively aided by his press officer, Supt Dave Taylor.”
However the tribunal found there “is no credible evidence that [former commissioner] Nóirín O’Sullivan played any hand act or part in any campaign conducted by” Mr Callinan and Supt Taylor.
In a report published on Thursday, Mr Justice Peter Charleton said he accepted what the former head of the Public Accounts Committee, John McGuinness, said in evidence of a meeting in a car park in West Dublin.
Mr Callinan, in his evidence to the tribunal, disputed the Fianna Fáil deputy’s evidence about what was said in the meeting.
The finding is a devastating finding for a former head of the police force. The abuse claim against Mr McCabe was completely without foundation.
Mr McGuiness told the tribunal that the then commissioner said to him that there were issues to do with Sgt McCabe, who at the time was being considered as a potential witness to the Dáil committee.
Mr McGuiness said he was told the sergeant “had sexually abused his family and an individual, that he was not to be trusted, that I had made a grave error in relation to the Public Accounts Committee and the hearings because of this, and that I would find myself in serious trouble.”
Mr Callinan, in his evidence said he did not at any point “speak in derogatory terms of Sgt McCabe nor would I.”
Mr Justice Charleton said the conversation “as described by John McGuiness TD took place.”
The missing phones: Tribunal finds Dave Taylor ‘chose to present a public lie to the people of Ireland’
THE DISCLOSURES TRIBUNAL has found that former garda press officer Superintendent Dave Taylor “chose to present a public lie to the people of Ireland” over missing phones that would show evidence of a smear campaign directed by senior Gardaí against Maurice McCabe.
Taylor had claimed that former garda commissioner Martin Callinan had sent him text messages that could be used by the press officer to smear McCabe to journalists.
He also claimed he would keep then-deputy commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan abreast of developments with the smear campaign.
Both of these claims were found by Mr Justice Peter Charleton to be “false”.
Independent analysis was conducted on phones used by the key players during this period, and little was found to support Taylor’s claims in this regard.
Taylor, however, would later withdraw the allegation that such evidence existed on the phones to back up his claims, despite him having told Maurice McCabe in a private meeting at his home that it was the case.
“Having made this dramatic allegation, the tribunal had to spend time and money investigating it,” Mr Justice Charleton noted. “That obligation continued even though Superintendent Taylor later withdrew the allegation in an interview with the tribunal investigators.
Taylor was moved out of the garda press office shortly after Callinan’s resignation in March 2014.
The following year, he was arrested and suspended for allegedly leaking information to the press.
He was still suspended when he made his protected disclosure containing the allegations he was directed to conduct a smear campaign against McCabe by Callinan.
The judge wrote: “The purpose of the allegations was to undermine confidence in any electronic evidence that there was against himself in relation to leaking details of criminal investigations to the media at a time when he was no longer employed in the Garda Press Office.”
Taylor alleged phones “behaved mysteriously” and went missing because they had evidence “implicating the highest levels of the national police force in a vicious campaign against a defenceless sergeant”.
‘No credible evidence’ O’Sullivan ‘played any part’ in campaign against McCabe
Judge Peter Charleton said Superintendent David Taylor had “every reason to lie” about the former Garda Commissioner because he was “bitter” about several things.
THERE IS NO “credible evidence” that former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan “played any hand act or part” in any campaign against whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe, the Disclosures Tribunal has found.
The Tribunal’s lengthy final report, which was published today, found that there was a “campaign of calumny” against McCabe by former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, that was “actively aided” by press officer Superintendent David Taylor.
O’Sullivan, Callinan’ s successor, does not appear to have been involved in this campaign, Judge Peter Charleton has stated.
“All of the evidence is to the contrary in fact. When Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan came into office, practically the first thing she did was to get rid of Superintendent David Taylor, the incumbent press officer. She did this because she neither trusted him nor liked him.
“She reached out to Maurice McCabe and attempted to solve the workplace-related issues which surrounded him. These efforts were successful at first, but were undermined by what she felt was the necessity to test where he was coming from in the very serious allegations of corruption that he was making before the O’Higgins Commission.
“Her decision in that regard involved talking at length to officials in the Department of Justice and Equality. She is likely to have remembered that, contrary to her evidence, because she realised what was at stake. It is also improbable that she did not have an inkling at the very least about Commissioner Callinan’ s views.”
Charleton states that is it is “more than improbable that nothing emerged” during a conversation between O’Sullivan and Callinan in a car journey back to Garda Headquarters after a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on 23 January 2014.
This is the meeting at which Callinan famously said it was “quite disgusting” that two whistleblowers out of a force of 13,000 people were making “extraordinary serious allegations” while there was not “a whisper” from elsewhere in the force of “corruption or malpractice”.
The judge said O’Sullivan’s evidence in relation to this was “disappointing to hear”.
Charleton said Taylor had “every reason to lie” about O’Sullivan because he was “bitter” about several things.
He was bitter about not being promoted, bitter about no longer being the press officer for Garda Headquarters, bitter about no longer traipsing in and out of the Garda Commissioner’s office, bitter about the crimes for which he was being rightly investigated, bitter about being arrested, bitter about having telephones and computers seized from him in the course of a criminal investigation, bitter about having to go to the High Court and recite untruths in an affidavit, bitter about having to decamp from Garda Headquarters to the less power-charged surroundings of Dublin Castle, and determined to get revenge on the person whom he saw was responsible.
Charlton also found that Taylor “chose to present a public lie to the people of Ireland” over missing phones that would show evidence of a smear campaign directed by senior Gardaí against McCabe.
Taylor had claimed that Callinan had sent him text messages that could be used by the press officer to smear McCabe to journalists. He also claimed he would keep O’Sullivan, then-Deputy Commissioner, abreast of developments with the smear campaign.
Both of these claims were found by Charleton to be “false”.
Independent analysis was conducted on phones used by the key players during this period, and little was found to support Taylor’s claims in this regard.
Taylor, however, would later withdraw the allegation that such evidence existed on the phones to back up his claims, despite him having told McCabe in a private meeting at his home that it was the case.
‘Allegation not used to attack McCabe’s creditworthiness’
When discussing the approach of O’Sullivan’s counsel at the O’Higgins Commission, which was established to examine claims made by McCabe in relation to the Cavan/Monaghan Division of An Garda Síochána, Charleton notes: “There is no reason to imagine that Colm Smyth SC, or any other members of the legal team representing the Garda Commissioner, were personally or professionally ill-disposed towards Maurice McCabe.
“The essence of any instruction received by the legal team on behalf of the Commissioner and other senior Gardaí was that Maurice McCabe was a contented sergeant in charge of Bailieboro up to 2007 and that there was a link between his beginning to complain about police standards and the unfortunate experience of being investigated over the Ms D allegation from December 2006.
No one, however, thought of using her allegation as an attack on his creditworthiness. Had that allegation been so used, it would have been a classic example of an unrelated issue being used on specific instructions from a client to suggest that a witness was unworthy of belief due to prior improper conduct. That did not happen.
The judge notes that multiple references were made during the 19 days of hearings by the tribunal to sets of notes taken by Chief Superintendent Fergus Healy, as liaison officer for the Garda Commissioner and represented Gardaí, by solicitor Annmarie Ryan.
‘Serious mistake to not meet solicitor’
Charleton states that these notes “have been scrutinised for any hint of wrongdoing by Commissioner O’Sullivan”.
“One fact needs to be made clear. While counsel met with some of their clients on Monday, 11 May 2015 and the following days, and while everything was a terrible rush, they did not meet with Commissioner O’Sullivan until much later on. Insofar as they were getting instructions from her, these arose in consequence of a particular dispute where, as the phrase goes, one word borrowed another.
“That row happened on Friday, 15 May 2015, the second day of hearings at the O’Higgins Commission. Insofar as instructions came in these early stages, these arrived through the agency of Chief Superintendent Healy, who alone was authorised to ring Commissioner O’Sullivan directly, and these were conveyed to counsel either directly or through Annmarie Ryan.
“Bizarrely, Commissioner O’Sullivan did not meet with her solicitor and did not give her instructions directly at that time. This was a serious mistake which led to much of the difficulty at the commission.
“As of that weekend after the row happened, Annmarie Ryan asked for a consultation with her client. This was conveyed through the garda liaison officer, and he has sworn that he asked Commissioner O’Sullivan to make herself available over the weekend. There was no consultation.
“Chief Superintendent Healy also gave evidence that he had asked the Commissioner about her availability over that weekend for a consultation with Ryan and the legal team. In her evidence to the tribunal, the Commissioner said that she was not made aware by Healy of Ryan seeking an urgent consultation:
Charleton continues: “For whatever reason, the Garda Commissioner declined at that stage to meet with her solicitor and counsel. There is no excuse for that. For one thing, it could have cleared up a matter which was allowed to escalate.
“At the tribunal, there has been a focus on the consultations with garda clients on Monday, 11 May 2015 and the following days, the O’Higgins Commission having started later that week on Thursday, 14 May 2015.
“It is difficult for this tribunal to make sense of the matter, given that out of all represented senior Gardaí, only Chief Superintendent Colm Rooney, Superintendent Noel Cunningham and Superintendent Clancy did not give a complete waiver of legal professional privilege. They cannot be in any way blamed for asserting rights given to them by law.
Nonetheless, it is clear that a narrative was given to counsel and solicitor that described Maurice McCabe in very complimentary terms as a policeman but as someone who changed, not in terms of his competence but instead of his attitude, at a time which generally coincided with the D investigation and its aftermath.
“There was nothing wrong with seeking to explore this matter. Perhaps, from the point of view of strategy, it would have been better to focus on precisely what was being alleged in relation to each of the incidents contained in the commission’s terms of reference.
“By focusing on the individual, it may be that facts can get lost but by focusing on the facts, the individual making the allegation becomes less important. That, however, is not a criticism,” the judges writes.
Disclosures report praises McCabe, highly critical of Tusla and Supt Dave Taylor
The report examined three main areas relating to Sgt Maurice McCabe
The Disclosures Tribunal’s third interim report has concluded that garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe is a genuine person who at all times has had the interests of the people of Ireland uppermost in his mind.
It found he regarded those interests as superior to any loyalty which he had to the police force of the State, but that neither interest should ever be in conflict.
Furthermore, the report has strongly criticised the child and family agency Tusla for its handling of a false rape claim made against Sgt McCabe.
The latest interim Disclosures Tribunal report relating to Sgt McCabe was published today and examines three main areas, namely the Tusla file containing the false rape claim against Sgt McCabe; former garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s legal approach at the O’Higgins Commission; and the alleged senior garda smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.
The report by Justice Peter Charleton is critical of the former garda press officer David Taylor, and makes reference to evidence heard about the conversations former garda commissioner Martin Callinan had with others about Sgt McCabe.
It also accepts that the former commissioner O’Sullivan did not suggest that Sgt McCabe’s integrity should be challenged at an earlier inquiry – the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.
The report, which is based on evidence given in three modules over a period between July 2017 and July 2018, makes findings on the roles of a number of key individuals and agencies.
Allegation of character assassination
Mr Justice Charleton said Sgt McCabe had done the State a considerable service by bringing policing problems to the attention of the public, and said he remained an officer of exemplary character and a person of “admirable fortitude”.
Mr Justice Charleton said that those reading this report would no doubt be horrified at the section which summarises all of the negative things said directly about Sgt McCabe, and all of the rumours which floated around and were magnified over the best part of a decade from 2007.
Regarding the Ms D allegation, which concerned an allegation of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe, which was dismissed by the DPP as not constituting a crime, Mr Justice Charleton said it was a shame that the ruling of the DPP could not have been circulated to Sgt McCabe and the D family.
The tribunal chairman said he had no option but to find that former Supt Taylor was a witness whose credibility was completely undermined by his own bitterness.
The report said Dave Taylor was not acting under orders from former commissioner Martin Callinan
Mr Justice Charleton said his affidavit in the judicial review proceedings that he intended to commence before the High Court, was untruthful and his motivation in bringing forward this allegation was to stop or undermine a criminal investigation rightly being taken against him.
He said the truth was that Supt Taylor completely understated his own involvement in a campaign of calumny – or slander – against Sgt McCabe.
The report states: “In the result, the tribunal has been convinced that there was a campaign of calumny against Maurice McCabe by Commissioner Martin Callinan and that in it he was actively aided by his press officer Superintendent David Taylor.”
Martin Callinan is criticised by Mr Justice Peter Charleton
It added: “The truth is that Superintendent David Taylor completely understated his own involvement in a campaign of calumny against Maurice McCabe. He claimed, for the first time, while giving evidence to the tribunal that he was acting under orders. That was not the case.
“The tribunal is convinced that he pursued a scheme that somehow evolved out of his cheek-by-jowl working relationship with Commissioner Callinan.
“Their plan was that there was to be much nodding and winking and references to a historic claim of sexual abuse while, at the same time, saying that the Director of Public Prosecutions had ruled that even if the central allegation did not have credibility issues, what was described did not amount to an offence of sexual assault or even an assault.”
It adds: “The plain reality, however, is that Superintendent David Taylor engages in thought-through deceits.
“What has to be remembered here is that Superintendent David Taylor had an agenda.
“What might be regarded as upsetting in all of this is the extent to which Superintendent Taylor was able to dress up lies in a legal syrup that cloyingly garnered public sympathy.
“He apparently succeeded in garnering public sympathy through the manipulation of the media and he also managed to hold on to his career through deceit.”
Tusla file and Sgt McCabe
The report also strongly criticised the child and family agency Tusla for its handling of the false rape claim made against Sgt McCabe.
Mr Justice Charleton said the agency gave the allegation an afterlife due to “astounding inefficiency and inertia”.
Mr Justice Charleton also concluded the file had been “filleted” by an unidentifiable person in the organisation and that from 2016, no one within Tusla considered owning up to the serious mistakes that had been made.
The report finds that the the rape allegation was “conjured out of nowhere” within a Health Service Executive counselling service.
He says this was a coincidence even if it seemed unlikely and all the witnesses from the HSE were honest.
Sgt McCabe was accused of a sexual assault by the daughter of a colleague in 2006. This was subsequently dismissed by the DPP as not constituting a crime.
The tribunal heard that when the woman later went to HSE counselling in 2013, the assault was incorrectly inflated to a rape allegation by a template error.
Mr Justice Charleton said the computer analysis bore this out.
The report also criticises the garda handling of the allegation, saying the northern region never sent a corrected version of the allegation to Garda Headquarters.
Mr Justice Charleton also says that while others were informed and incorrectly informed, Sgt McCabe was never contacted and told the mistakes had been made.
O’Sullivan’s legal approach at O’Higgins Commission
The report accepted Ms O’Sullivan’s evidence that her instructions to her legal team at the O’Higgins Commission were to consider the interests of all gardaí before the inquiry and to have the evidence of Sgt McCabe scrutinised.
The report looked at Nóirín O’Sullivan’s legal approach at O’Higgins Commission
Mr Justice Charleton’s report also accepted the evidence of Ms O’Sullivan’s legal team that she never suggested that Sgt McCabe’s integrity be challenged at the commission.
The report outlines that correspondence forwarded to then minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald about the approach being taken by the garda legal team in May 2015 was noted for information, and that this indicated no action was needed.
Judge Charleton says that the tribunal accepts Ms Fitzgerald’s evidence that she did not wish to interfere in the O’Higgins proceedings as an “honest appraisal” of the situation.
The report finds that Ms Fitzgerald and Ms O’Sullivan did not speak about the matter.
The O’Higgins examined garda failures in the Cavan/Monaghan division.
The report found that a letter submitted to the O’Higgins Commission by the Garda legal team in May 2015 which contained an error was drafted in haste.
It found that the letter was accurate up to a point, but that inattention and perhaps emotional overlay by some of those instructing the legal team sent the letter astray.
The letter incorrectly stated that Sgt McCabe had made a complaint against a senior officer to get something he wanted.
The report said the tribunal unequivocally accepted the evidence of AnnMarie Ryan of the Chief State Solicitor’s Office that she gave three copies of the document to the Garda legal team on the day it was submitted.
Judge Charleton said the tribunal was satisfied that there was no deliberate attempt to write a series of quite silly mistakes by way of a submission undermining Sgt McCabe to the O’Higgins Commission.
The report stated that notes taken by Superintendent Noel Cunningham of a meeting in August 2008 with Sgt McCabe in Mullingar fully accorded with a tape recording made by Sgt McCabe of the meeting.
It found that Supt Cunningham had never given evidence to the contrary of this either at the O’Higgins Commission or the Disclosures Tribunal.
The report states there is no evidence that Ms O’Sullivan ever knew about the letter or that she had any input into drafting it or that she was aware of any error.
In a statement, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he and his officials would examine the report in its entirety, to see “what actions are required”.
He said that he would ensure any proposals for any recommended change in the justice sector are “implemented without delay”.
Mr Flanagan also said that Mr McCabe’s actions “arose out of a legitimate drive to ensure that An Garda Síochána serves the people through hard work and diligence”.