The editor of the Irish Independent has rejected an allegation that he referred to the whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe as a paedophile during a conversation with a colleague in September 2014.

Fionnan Sheahan was giving evidence to the Disclosures Tribunal, which is examining a claim of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.

The former editor of the Sunday Independent newspaper Anne Harris, has told the inquiry that Mr Sheahan said to her during a conversation towards the end of September 2014 that Sgt McCabe was a paedophile.

Mr Sheahan today told the tribunal he absolutely denied making the comment and said the suggestion was entirely contradicted by his actions around that time.

He said that in the period around the third week of September 2014 he had commissioned articles and assigned a reporter to cover the latest allegations around penalty points, and had put that story on the agenda for the Sunday Independent that week.

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Mr Sheahan said that emails from him during that period showed he was advocating positive coverage about Sgt McCabe.

The journalist said he was aware of a general discussion in political circles at Leinster House about an allegation against Sgt McCabe around the period when the whistleblower was raising concerns about penalty points.

Mr Sheahan said this was nothing that was founded in any fact or anything that would be described as a briefing.

Counsel for Ms Harris, Darren Lehane, put it to Mr Sheahan that he did not take a note of when he first heard about the allegation against Sgt McCabe, but he was criticising Ms Harris for not having a note of the conversation in which she alleges Mr Sheahan called Sgt McCabe a paedophile.

Mr Sheahan said Ms Harris was making a specific allegation against him and he felt entitled to make that criticism.

The tribunal heard that Mr Sheahan had expressed views that Ms Harris been motivated out of malice and a grudge against him in bringing her evidence to the tribunal.

Mr Lehane put it to Mr Sheahan that he was saying that Ms Harris was using the tribunal to ventilate a grudge.

Mr Sheahan said he stood over his account that Ms Harris' evidence was born out of a grudge.

He said he was also saying that Ms Harris had been confused and said he did not understand where her specific account was coming from.

Mr Sheahan said he believed it was clear that Ms Harris was headline hunting in her comments about him.

Mr Lehane put it to Mr Sheahan that he had a serious problem with Ms Harris and was attacking her in the course of his evidence.

Mr Sheahan said he was contradicting what Ms Harris had said.

Earlier the former Irish Independent editor Claire Grady told the tribunal she had not heard anything about a 2006 allegation against Sgt McCabe, which was dismissed by the DPP, until Paul Williams proposed to do an article about the complainant in the case, Ms D, in 2014.

Ms Grady said prior to that there would have been chit chat suggesting that Sgt McCabe had a grudge, but she said she was not inclined to have any interest in it.

Ms Grady said she was involved in an early meeting to consider the story when the video of the interview with Ms D was played.

Lawyers for the tribunal asked Ms Grady about her statement to the inquiry that she had thought at the time that someone must have drawn Mr Williams attention to Ms D's story, and that it was convenient for garda authorities that the story was emerging at the time.

Ms Grady said she remembered thinking that it was most likely that a Garda had put Ms D in contact with Paul Williams, and she said in the statement she was explaining her initial resistance to the story.

She said it was her job to be sceptical, however Ms Grady said the story was presented by a very experienced reporter, and went through an additional stress test process.

Mr Williams published a number of articles relating to Ms D in April 2014.