Gardaí sue media over claims they planned to give misleading information

Reports followed Wallace’s allegation about recording of McCabe’s meeting with officers as reported by Conor Lally in today’s Irish Times

Two Garda officers who it was alleged were attempting to give misleading information to damage Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins commission are taking legal action against several media outlets.

Supt Noel Cunningham and Sgt Yvonne Martin have issued High Court defamation proceedings. They both have initiated proceedings against the Irish Examiner , RT É and TV3 . Supt Cunningham has also initiated proceedings against the Sunday Times .

Their legal actions, started at different times since last February. According to court records they are represented by different law firms. It was not clear what content they suggest defamed them. Both Supt Cunningham and Sgt Martin were at a meeting with Sgt McCabe in Mullingar in August 2008.

Complaint

It has been suggested in the Dáil by Mick Wallace TD that they had planned to give evidence to the commission detailing how Sgt McCabe told them he had lodged a complaint against a senior officer that was motivated by a sense of grievance or grudge.

However, in its opening statement at its latest module on Monday, the Charleton tribunal shed new light on that.

It emerged at the tribunal that an inaccurate summary of the evidence Supt Cunningham intended to give was furnished by counsel for the Garda Commissioner to other parties at the commission in 2015.

The mistake was identified and resolved. Supt Cunningham gave evidence about meeting Sgt McCabe at the commission. His evidence in no way suggested Sgt McCabe had lodged a complaint against a senior officer because of a grudge. It is anticipated the legal actions being pursued by Supt Cunningham and Sgt Martin will relate to some of the media’s reporting about these matters.

The 2008 meeting was secretly recorded by Sgt McCabe and a transcript produced at the O’Higgins commission. Supt Cunningham has said his recall and notes of the meeting were the same as Sgt McCabe’s record.

Allegation

Supt Cunningham told the commission he had known Sgt McCabe for between 15 and 20 years and they had never “had a cross word”. However, he said when he was directed to investigate Sgt McCabe after a criminal allegation was made against him, Sgt McCabe’s attitude changed towards him.

The historical allegation, of inappropriate touching, was made in late 2006 by the daughter of a Garda colleague with whom Sgt McCabe had clashed earlier that year.

The allegation was rejected by the DPP. And Supt Cunningham had given his opinion to the DPP that the case should not result in criminal charges.

“It had impacted on his life. It affected him,” Supt Cunningham told the commission of Sgt McCabe’s reaction to the allegation made against him.

“But he had no reason not to trust me, Judge. I had never, in any of my time with Maurice McCabe, tried to treat him other than with complete and total professionalism and support.

“Yet, here was a man, as I said, taping me without my knowledge. Trying to steer me . . . “

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