The Director of Public Prosecutions has begun High Court proceedings to win the right to proceed with the prosecution of Charles Haughey on obstruction charges. His trial, before a jury in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, was postponed indefinitely by Judge Kevin Haugh last June. The DPP claims that Judge Haugh exceeded his jurisdiction.
Judge Kevin Haugh said in June that the degree of vilification against Charles Haughey and the depth of feeling is such that his trial on charges of obstructing the McCracken Tribunal should not proceed in the current climate. However, the DPP says that Judge Haugh exceeded his jurisdiction in the High Court challenge against that order. They claim that he adjourned the trial indefinitely in the absence of any evidence that an impartial jury could not be found. They argue that his decision was irrational in the absence of actual evidence of bias or prejudice.
Maurice Gaffney SC is presenting the case for the DPP, he spent the morning acquainting Miss Justice Mella Carroll with the history of this case. Mr Haughey's lawyers have already equipped the court with TV and Video equipment, an indication that the court may again hear the TV and radio broadcasts submitted in previous cases to support their case of bias against Mr Haughey.
Mr Gaffney said that he did not dispute the level of negative publicity surrounding Mr Haughey. However, he disagrees with Judge Haugh's conclusion that that a fair trial is now impossible, he called this irrational. He said that the only way Judge Haugh could be certain of this would be by trying to find a jury and failing.
Counsel for the DPP also claim that the Tánaiste's comments, that the former Taoiseach should be convicted and jailed, had nothing to do with the McCracken Tribunal and would not prejudice his trial or affect jurors properly directed. The hearing could last up to six days.