Persona / Jerry Healy S.C.
One of the most controversial and curious aspects of the Moriarty Tribunal’s inquiries into the awarding of the second mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone Limited relates to the extent of the interaction between the Persona consortium (one of the losing applicants in the licence competition) and the Moriarty Tribunal. A point of particular controversy arising out of this relationship is the nature and extent of Persona’s dealings with the lead Senior Counsel to the Moriarty Tribunal, Mr. Jerry Healy SC. Prior to acting for the Tribunal, Mr. Healy acted as a senior legal adviser to the Persona consortium and advised them as part of their intensive attempts to challenge the awarding of the second mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone. This relationship has led to questions being raised about an apparent conflict of interest on the part of Mr. Healy i.e. the conflict between Mr. Healy’s involvement with Persona as part of its legal challenges to the awarding of the second mobile phone licence and Mr. Healy’s subsequent central role in the Tribunal’s inquires into the very same licence process.
Central to understanding the relationship between the Tribunal and Persona is the fact that Persona is presently suing the Irish State for significant damages arising from its involvement in the second mobile phone licence competition. In parallel with pursuing their damages claim against the State through the Irish Courts, Persona has also been heavily involved in the Tribunal’s private and public inquiries into the licence process and has retained a consistent presence throughout the Tribunal’s public sittings since 2002.
Persona finished as runner-up to Esat Digifone in the second mobile phone licence competition process; scoring 410 points to Esat Digifone’s winning score of 432. Persona had been installed as the “bookies’ favourite” to win the competition and were heavily backed (in media circles at least) as the consortium most likely to prevail in the competition. When Persona was ultimately beaten into the runners-up position by Esat Digifone, they did not take this defeat lightly. Almost immediately on the announcement of Esat Digifone’s success in the competition process on 25 October 1995, Persona went on the offensive and aggressively sought to prevent the actual awarding of the mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone. Persona’s full frontal offensive against the competition result took many forms and involved a formidable combination of a political strategy, a PR / media strategy and a legal strategy. Persona’s efforts to attack the competition process and the subsequent awarding of the second mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone have continued to this day.
Part of the intensive legal strategy employed by Persona to attack the competition result involved the retaining of Jerry Healy SC to advise Persona in respect of certain legal challenges being contemplated by them with a view towards overturning the competition result and / or to prevent the licence being awarded to Esat Digifone. Subsequent to this stint as adviser to Persona, Jerry Healy was appointed as one of the Moriarty Tribunal’s lead Senior Counsel and has at all times been heavily involved in investigating and pursuing the Tribunal’s various lines of inquiry / allegations in respect of the licence process. Mr. Healy was appointed by the Moriarty Tribunal in 1997, a short period after he had beem engaged by and formally advised Persona in respect of their contemplated High Court challenges to the licence competition result and award of the licence.
In May 2001, Persona issued a damages action against the Irish State arising from the awarding of the mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone in May 1996. Representatives of Persona have told the High Court that they intend to rely on the Tribunal’s final report in relation to the second mobile phone process as part of their claim for damages against the Irish State in their High Court proceedings. What is abundantly clear is that Persona is one of the very few parties that will clearly benefit from any adverse / negative findings being made in relation to the second mobile phone licence process. Persona itself is of the view that any such adverse findings would be of great assistance to them in succeeding in their huge damages claim against the Irish State.
The level and nature of Jerry Healy’s previous professional involvement with Persona as part of their intensive efforts to overturn the competition result in favour of Esat Digifone has never been fully addressed by the Moriarty Tribunal. However, the presence of what is (on the face of it) an apparent serious conflict of interest between Mr. Healy’s role as a senior legal adviser to Persona and his present role as Senior Counsel to the Tribunal inquiring into the circumstances surrounding the awarding of the second mobile phone licence has caused very considerable concern to numerous parties represented before the Moriarty Tribunal. On Day 190 of the Tribunal’s Public Sittings (26 February 2003), Senior Counsel to Telenor (the Norwegian State owned Telecoms Company) Eoghan Fitzsimons SC, commented as follows:
“Now, Sir as I say, I have no doubt that both Mr. Healy and Mr. Coughlan believe that they are engaging in an inquiry, but the fact of the matters is, that they have put propositions to witnesses relating to alleged—they have alleged defects in the process to witnesses, which is putting a case, and that case will be the same case we can anticipate that Persona will make against the State in the High Court when that claim ultimately comes on to hearing……we have sat through what has happened here, listened to it, observed it and we are experienced Counsel, and what has happened is that a case has been made against the integrity of the process, and civil servants have been attacked, both openly and by implication in relation to the manner in which they have conducted their duties. And most unfairly, in my submission in some instances…”
Mr. Fitzsimons (a former Irish Attorney General) was emphatically supported in this submission by Eoin McGonigal SC (on behalf of Denis O’Brien) and by Bill Shipsey SC (on behalf of International Investment and Underwriting Limited). The relevant extract from the Transcript of Day 190 can be accessed via the link below.
This section of the site seeks to explore the curious relationship between the Moriarty Tribunal (and in particular Jerry Healy SC) and the Persona consortium. Numerous documents are provided as appropriate to highlight the extent of this relationship and to illuminate the considerable role played by Persona in respect of the Tribunal’s private and public inquiries into the awarding of the second mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone.
Read the documents – judge for yourself!!