Mr Justice Frank Clarke criticises Government over leak of personal injury payouts letter
The Chief Justice of Ireland, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, has criticised the Government over the leaking of private correspondence about personal injury payouts.
A letter from Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to Ireland’s most senior judge was apparently leaked to the media before Mr Justice Clarke had even received it.
The top judge has blamed “someone on the Government’s side” for the leak, according to a private note seen by the Irish Independent.
The leak in question concerned a letter from Mr Flanagan in which he proposed the establishment of an interim ad hoc committee to write new personal injury damages figures for the Book of Quantum, given the delays in establishing the proposed Judicial Council.
At the time, the Law Society of Ireland urged that the proposals “be approached with extreme caution”.
Mr Justice Clarke wrote to Mr Flanagan afterwards: “While I am sure that the leak did not come from you, I am afraid I must conclude that it did come from someone on the Government’s side. I have to say that I find it particularly unhelpful that someone on the Government’s side has seen fit to leak the letter before it has even been received.
“Such action does nothing to foster a spirit of co-operation on matters of mutual interest.”
He said the suggestion in The Irish Times that he would respond favourably to the proposal must have come “from the Government side as well”.
Mr Justice Clarke added: “I will, of course, consider and respond to any correspondence which I actually receive.
“However, I feel that it is incumbent on me to express, in strong terms, my dismay at the actions of whichever person or persons organised the leak and briefing in question.”