Court presidents issue statement over alleged interference in family law case

Monday 04 November 2013 23.33
Statement issued about alleged interference with a family law case
Statement issued about alleged interference with a family law case

The Presidents of the High Court and the Circuit Court have said they are satisfied that a query raised by a circuit court judge with a High Court judge about an in camera family law case had no effect on the rulings made by the High Court.

In an unusual step, the court presidents issued a statement outlining their findings after an article in yesterday's Sunday Times, which reported the allegation that a circuit court judge had tried to interfere with the case.

The judges said they investigated the report as a matter of urgency and that any allegation of this nature is of grave concern to the judiciary generally and particularly to judges of the Circuit Court.

The judge who made the query said he had not been asked to make it by any politician or anyone involved in the case and had no intention to interfere with the case. 

The judges said High Court judge Mr Justice Henry Abbott told them he met Judge Desmond Hogan in the Four Courts a few days after giving a ruling in a High Court family law case.

Mr Justice Abbott said that during a casual conversation, Judge Hogan asked him if it was true he had made a particular order in the case. 

Mr Justice Abbott took exception to this query and said he would give the reasons for his decision in due course. 

The case was in court again in February this year, and Mr Justice Abbott asked one of the parties about this inquiry being made and referred to it in a judgment delivered in July.

Judge Hogan told the judges he cannot recall the conversation or how he came by the information that the ruling was made. 

He said he would not dispute that he may have asked Mr Justice Abbott about the case in a casual way.

But he said he was satisfied that he had no request to ask about it from any politician or party connected with the case in any way.  

He said there had been no intention to interfere with the case or influence its outcome in any way and deeply regrets that his query may have given rise to any such concern.

The presidents of the High Court and the Circuit Court said the raising of the matter, should not have occurred but could not have interfered with Mr Justice Abbott's ruling in July 2010 - as it happened afterwards and that it had no effect on his ruling this July.