Shergar: 30 years later - £20m claim was never pursued - council spokesperson

A claim against Kildare County Council was made in 1983 in relation to the kidnapping of Shergar but the Council said it was never paid out.

A claim against Kildare County Council was made in 1983 in relation to the kidnapping of Shergar but the Council said it was never paid out.

The 26 February 1983 edition of the Leader reported that the Council received a £20 million claim from a firm of Dublin solicitors. At the the time, County Manager, Gerry Ward said it would contest what was the largest ever claim against it.

Given the size of the claim, the Council of the time, passed on the letter to the Department of Environment, as it was concerned over legal costs among other things.

But the claim was never pursued.

This week, Council spokesperson, Annette Aspell, said a preliminary claim had been made but it was not pursued.

There was a lot of money involved in the kidnap, possibly over £100m stg at the time.

In his book, “The Informer”, Sean O’Callaghan, wrote about his life in the IRA and turning informer.

He wrote that the idea for the Shergar kidnapping came from Kevin Mallon and that an armed IRA gang took the horse and demanded £5m for its return. He also said that if Mallon had insight into the mindset of the Aga Khan, who immediately said he would not pay a penny, he would not have bothered taking the horse.

The Aga was under pressure from other shareholders but held firm, said Callaghan.

Callaghan said that the horse got upset after being taken and was killed within days of 8 February 1983 because he could not be controlled.

Callaghan said he decided in 1992 to go public with the story of his IRA involvements and did some interviews with Liam Clarke of the Sunday Times

Following publication he said he was approached by a solicitor acting for Stan Cosgrove, the well known Kildare vet, who had owned a stake in Shergar.

He said all of the shareholders, including the Aga Khan, had been compensated by their insurance companies, except for Cosgrove, who had only insured against death or serious injury.

But no one had been in a position to prove Shergar was dead and Cosgrave’s insurance company had refused to pay out. Cosgrove hoped Callaghan could help prove death.

Callaghan said he helped as much as he could.

Although he felt the insurance company was technically correct, he felt it was sticking too rigidly to the letter of the law. He provided Cosgrove’s solicitor with affidavits and statements but said as far as he was aware the company never budged from its position.

A.J.Davidson’s 2003 book, “Kidnapped: True Stories of Twelve Irish Hostage, said when the Aga Khan retired Shergar to stud he assembled a 34 member syndicate to make money from the horse.

Each share cost €250,000 and underwriters from Lloyd’s of London carried the £10m stg risk but the expected returns were as high at £100m stg, possibly more.

- Henry Bauress