Ex-solicitor Michael Lynn fails in bid to ban references to upcoming criminal trial in coverage of separate case
May 19 2021 06:04 PM
Former solicitor Michael Lynn has failed to get a High Court order prohibiting references to his forthcoming criminal trial in press reports of a separate civil case relating to an application to replace him as trustee of a Dublin apartment.
Mr Lynn (52) holds in trust the property at The William Bligh block of the Gasworks apartment complex in Barrow Street.
The civil case is due to be heard in early June while his criminal trial is expected to get a fresh date sometime after October.
Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), which took over property on which Mr Lynn held a mortgage deed/charge as trustee, wants to replace his name as trustee with one of their own solicitors for the purpose of giving effect to court orders which have been made over properties including the Gasworks apartment.
Mr Lynn asked the court initially to order that no references to the criminal charges and pending trial be made in court reports of the civil case because he believed it would be prejudicial to him getting a fair trial before a jury.
Ms Justice Siobhan Stack granted him a temporary order last Friday prohibiting reports of the civil matter from mentioning the criminal matter.
The case returned on Wednesday when counsel for Mediahuis (formerly Independent News and Media), The Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Irish Mirror, the Daily Mail and News Ireland, opposed the continuation of the order.
John Berry BL, for the DPP, who had been invited by the judge to make submissions on the matter, said he had no instructions regarding a reporting restriction in this case.
He said however there were two previous civil matters involving Mr Lynn before the court which the DPP had an involvement in.
In the first, the DPP’s position was no reporting restriction was required but later the parties in that case agreed to adjourn the matter until after Mr Lynn’s criminal trial.
In the second case, the DPP took the view that at that stage, when it appeared the criminal trial was imminent there was a real risk to the trial if the matter was published. A restriction order was granted in that case.
Mr Berry said in this case, however, it did not appear from press reports that the property here (the Gasworks) was related to any of the properties within the ambit of Mr Lynn’s criminal case. It was the case, however, that a number of mortgages in the charges against him were obtained from Irish Nationwide which was subsumed by IBRC, he said.
Mr Lynn, who appeared by phone link during the remote video hearing, argued it was now his view that the reporting restriction should be more general given the DPP had not examined the papers in the civil case and it was not possible for her (DPP) to analyse the likely impact on the criminal trial.
While the Gasworks property was not one of those related to the criminal charges, it was mortgaged through Irish Nationwide and it will form part of his defence in the criminal trial, he said.
Tom Murphy BL, for the Press organisations, said Mr Lynn had provided nothing which in some way would persuade the court the restriction was appropriate.
Ms Justice Stack said she was not going to continue the order in relation to the mere naming of Mr Lynn and nature of charges he is facing as he had not met the legal test for doing so.
The matter giving her most concern was a photo in The Irish Times accompanying the first report of the trustee replacement case in which Mr Lynn was pictured close-arm linked to two plain clothes gardaí and had all the appearances of being under arrest.
She did not think this photo met the legal test for prohibiting its publication on the basis it would lead to an unfair trial but she said she did not like the photo and would share the preference of the DPP that a photo other than that one be used.
She told Mr Lynn, who asked for a stay on her decision so he could appeal her decision, he would have to apply for that himself to the Court of Appeal.