Sleepwalker accuses Kenmare bossesWednesday 10 November 2010 17.23
A Co Louth businessman has told the High Court he believed mining company bosses seized an opportunity from his silly behaviour to reduce his status in the company and gain control for themselves.
67-year-old Donal Kinsella was removed as a company director after he sleepwalked naked to the room of a secretary during a business trip to Africa in 2007.
He is suing Kenmare Resources for defamation after the company issued a press release on the incident.
In the witness box this morning, Mr Kinsella said he suspected the incident in Africa was given more importance than it deserved.
He said he believed the incident was being used to reduce his status in the company in order to give control to chairman Charles Carville and his son Michael.
He said he had been a non-executive director and the only independent voice on the board.
Mr Kinsella said he had apologised three times to secretary Deirdre Corcoran at a meeting after the incident in Mozambique.
He had arrived naked at her bedroom door three times in the middle of the night.
He added he had no memory of the event and had also opened the doors of two other bedrooms of male colleagues that night.
He said he was not told about the incident until two weeks later when he was told a complaint had been made by Ms Corcoran.
He had refused to resign from the audit committee when requested because to do so would have been to admit he had done something sinister or salacious.
He said he was happy that an independent investigation had absolved him of any wrongdoing.
However, a press release issued by the company caused media coverage, which suggested a fat cat director had preyed on a vulnerable secretary.
Mr Kinsella became emotional in the witness box when he described how he broke the news to his family.
He said they wanted to believe him but at first there was a suspicion that their father was a sexual predator.
He said he had the old fashioned belief that he had to protect his family and was faced with the prospect of that family being broken up.
He said he was the subject of cat calling and jokes in all social situations.
At the Galway Races people broke into song singing ‘yes we have no pyjamas’.
He said that was not too bad and he could handle it but it was worse when murmurs rippled around a room when he walked in with his wife.
He said it had the effect of silencing him and had to become a non person because when he questioned anything or spoke out at meetings ‘people would say what would you know, you are a molester’.
In cross-examination, he denied telling a journalist John Kierans about the details of the incident in Mozambique.
He said he gave him ‘a simple instruction’ to phone the company in the run-up to a board meeting to remove him from the audit committee.
Mr Kinsella has agreed that he had commented to Deirdre Corcoran earlier that night that he would prefer to be sharing a room with her than with company chairman Charles Carville.
He did not agree it was an inappropriate comment to make to a colleague.
He said it was made in a jocular manner and was received as such by Ms Corcoran.
He also said he was absolutely certain Ms Corcoran had not been offended by his presence at her room during the night as she could not have known he was naked.
Mr Kinsella said that Ms Corcoran has bad eyesight and was underneath six layers of moquito nets in a poorly lit building. He believed she was later informed that he was naked and that she was 'set up' to make a complaint by the Managing Director Michael Carville.
He said Ms Corcoran showed no sign the following day that he had offended her and was perfectly nice to him.
He asked: 'was that the behaviour of someone who had been offended?'
Defence counsel Bill Shipsey said Ms Corcoran would say that no such pleasant conversation took place the following day and he suggested this was complete fabrication.
The company contends that Mr Kinsella put the information into the public domain himself by speaking to the journalist.
Kenmare will say it was forced to issue a 'clarifying press release' following media queries.