Man challenges cut to welfare after appearance on Prime Time programme on prostitution

Thursday 25 April 2013 10.42
Ioan Anton says his appearance in the broadcast 'was entirely innocent'
Ioan Anton says his appearance in the broadcast 'was entirely innocent'

A man who featured in an RTÉ television programme about prostitution has brought a legal challenge against the decision to cut off his social welfare payments.

Ioan Anton, a married father-of-two, was filmed in a Prime Time  special 'Profiting from Prostitution' broadcast in February 2012, which he says insinuated he was involved in prostitution and brothel-keeping.

He said he was shown driving several people who appeared in the programme.

Mr Anton has claimed before the High Court that a subsequent decision was made by the Department for Social Protection to stop paying him the allowance as a result of his appearance in the programme.

He denies any involvement in such activities and says the decision was "fundamentally flawed".

Mr Anton, a native of Romania, wants the court to quash the Minister for Social Protection's decision to stop paying him jobseeker's allowance.

The High Court heard that following the broadcast he was informed by an inspector with the Department of Social Protection that his jobseeker's allowance of €372 was under review.

In March 2012, he attended an interview with officials from the department and Revenue, which he said was set up because of his appearance in the Prime Time programme.

At that meeting he denied that he was involved in a business for which he was in receipt of monies.

He was subsequently informed that his jobseeker's allowance was being stopped for his failure to disclose his means.

Mr Anton appealed that decision. He engaged lawyers to act on his behalf and says he has complied with every request made to disclose details about his means.

Last August, he was informed that his appeal, which he said was to include an oral hearing, had been listed.

However, he was informed last January that his appeal was being disallowed and the payment of the allowance stopped last March.

His lawyers sought an explanation and further information from the Department of Social Welfare about why Mr Anton's appeal was disallowed. None was forthcoming, the court heard.

Mr Anton, with an address at Hamlet Lane, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, has been resident in Ireland since 1998.

He claims the decision not to grant him an oral hearing and disallow his appeal breaches fair procedures.

The decision to cut off his allowance, it is claimed, appears to be based on unspecified evidence which Mr Anton was not made aware of.

In an affidavit, Mr Anton said the decision has caused him and his family "hardship and distress," and he has had to borrow from relatives.

He denied being involved in prostitution and brothel-keeping.

His appearance in the broadcast "was entirely innocent", he said.

He also said that a BMW car he was seen driving in the broadcast, which he was asked about during his meeting with the inspector and Revenue, did not belong to him.

It belonged to a female friend who has since left the country.

He said that he sold the car and sent on the proceeds to his friend.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Michael Peart.

The case returns to court in June.