File photo: the Four Courts
A senior army officer's High Court action over the State’s refusal to provide him with an independent report into his allegations of corruption and misconduct within the military has been resolved, and the case was withdrawn yesterday.
The action was brought by the Defence Forces Head of Legal Services Colonel Jerry Lane against the Minister for Defence, Ireland and the Attorney General.
The State Parties, represented by Margaret Nerney SC and Ronan Kennedy Bl, denied any wrongdoing and argued Col Lane was not entitled to any of the reliefs he sought.
Following talks between the parties on Wednesday morning Col Lane's counsel Roughan Banim SC told Mr Justice Michael Twomey that the case had been "settled."
Counsel said his client was "no longer seeking the independent report", known as the Smyth report, and that the proceedings were being "withdrawn."
The case could be struck out, counsel added.
When the case commenced on Tuesday the court heard the proceedings arose over concerns raised by Col Lane several years ago that preferential treatment was being afforded to another member of the Defence Forces to the detriment of other members.
Counsel said in 2010, his client attempted to raise the issue of the other officer's alleged preferential treatment through the chain of military command, but claimed that nothing was done.
Col Lane's concerns were that the other officer was selected for, but ultimately did not get, a senior position which Col Lane claimed the other person was ineligible for.
Col Lane, from Bandon, Co Cork, made a protected disclosure to members of Seanad Éireann regarding his concerns which were raised in the Seanad in 2011.
Arising out of the disclosure, he claims he was subjected to a range of penalties, including threats of dismissal and involuntary retirement from the Defence Forces, but those threats were subsequently set aside.
Arising out of his complaints, the Minister for Defence had in 2016 appointed Colm Smyth SC to conduct an independent review of the allegations.
Due to the issues raised by Col Lane, the Department of Defence decided it would not be placing any reliance on Mr Smyth’s report, that it would not be published and would be kept in a sealed file.
A fresh review was established into the allegations, to be conducted by Frank Callanan SC. In his action, Col Lane sought to have sight of the first report because any findings or conclusions in that document could affect his reputation.
Col. Lane claimed the refusal to give him the report breached his constitutional rights and fair procedures.
In judicial review proceedings, Col Lane sought an order quashing the refusal to provide him with a copy of the first report and directing he be provided with that.
He also sought damages and a declaration the respondents have acted unlawfully and in excess of jurisdiction by failing to provide him with a copy of the report.
The respondents had opposed the action and denied the claims.