Independent News & Media has blamed the State's corporate watchdog for a fall in the company's share price since there has been an application to have inspectors appointed to investigate the newspaper publisher.

Court documents show INM said there has also been an unusually high volume of trading in the company's shares since the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement said it wanted to investigate.

An affidavit by Len O'Hagan, a director of INM, said it was concerning the ODCE had information regarding an alleged data leak for a number of months and did not inform the company.


In the affidavit Mr O'Hagan said outside firms who were given access to INM's IT systems were allowed to do so "without written contracts containing appropriate obligations regarding data processing having been put in place".

In the affidavit Mr O'Hagan said a suggestion by the ODCE that INM has downplayed the data breach or misled the Data Protection Commissioner was "wholly unfair".

He said the board of INM had relied on an account for reasons for the data breach from the then chairman Leslie Buckley.

Different body should look into alleged breaches - INM

The INM documents also show the company said allegations of a data breach at the newspaper publisher should be investigated by the Data Protection Commissioner instead of the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement.

In the affidavit, Mr O'Hagan said the Data Protection Commissioner is the correct statutory authority to conduct the investigation and it would be inappropriate to have two separate bodies investigating the same matter. 

The documents show how Independent News & Media (INM) has objected to attempts by the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) to have inspectors appointed to investigate the business affairs of the company. 

The documents show the INM board believed it was kept in the dark by the ODCE on allegations regarding the data breach. The ODCE has used the claims about the data breach as a key reason for the appointment of inspectors. 

Mr O'Hagan said the criticism of the board was that it "failed to act properly" but he said this was "unfair having regard to the lack of knowledge on behalf of the board" regarding the data leak. 

INM has previously said that the alleged data interrogation, in which information related to 19 individuals -including journalists and barristers - may have been accessed, was carried under the instruction of the company's former chairman Leslie Buckley. 

The allegations were made in court documents submitted by the Director of Corporate Enforcement, Ian Drennan. 

Mr Buckley has said he would "robustly defend" each and every allegation which he said was damaging to his tenure as chairman of INM. 

Mr Buckley is a close associate of the company's largest shareholder, Denis O'Brien, who has written to Mr Drennan castigating him for allegedly leaking damaging information. 

Mr O'Brien said he had been subjected to extraordinary levels of media coverage, which had suggested wrongdoing. Mr Drennan has rejected allegations that the ODCE leaked material.

However, the ODCE has claimed the affairs of INM were conducted in a "unlawful manner".

Central to Mr Drennan's concerns have been allegations around access given to back-up tapes of INM's emails to outside companies.

The documents show the original tapes were destroyed as part of a "housekeeping" exercise before the board of INM became aware of the allegations of a data breach. 

In his affidavit, Mr O'Hagan said the back-up tapes would have been overwritten in the normal course of business.

He said they were decommissioned as part of preparation for new General Data Protection Regulations, called GDPR, which impose requirements on organisations not to retain data unnecessarily.

He said while it was not clear that tapes would have retained any useful information, "had INM known of the data interrogation information that had been known to the ODCE for six months" it would not have destroyed them.

Today the Data Protection Commissioner said in response to reports regarding the destruction of the tapes that "as has been reported we have been scoping an investigation into an alleged data breach of INM and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time".

Mr O'Hagan argued in his affidavit that INM has provided the ODCE with extensive documentation to date. He said there is no suggestion the newspaper publisher failed to respond to requests to give the ODCE material.