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Ex FAI boss John Delaney appeals court order to release more than 1,000 emails

Former FAI boss John Delaney says he has ‘modest resources’. Picture by Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE© SPORTSFILE

Mark TigheSunday Independent

John Delaney, the former Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive, has lodged an appeal against the High Court judgment that ordered some 1,100 of his work emails to be released to the Corporate Enforcement Authority (CEA).

The appeal from Delaney, who is now based in England, is likely to delay the criminal investigation that has been running for almost four years into suspected breaches of company law at the FAI.

Last October, Judge Leonie Reynolds rejected Delaney’s assertion of legal privilege over 1,123 emails that gardaí working for the CEA had seized from the FAI’s headquarters in Abbotstown in February 2020.

Over the next two and a half years the court engaged in a lengthy process of whittling the emails over which Delaney claimed privilege down to 1,123 from the 250,000 seized.

While Delaney had asked that Judge Reynolds read each individual email, the Judge instead ordered Delaney to provide information about the records that would justify his privilege claims. In her ruling, Judge Reynolds said despite Delaney having got “every opportunity” to review the documents he offered only “vague and nebulous” claims to justify claims that the emails should be shielded from investigators.

“To embark on the exercise as contended for by Mr Delaney would prove fruitless, time consuming and utterly meaningless,” said the judge. “It would also, of course, create further needless delay in the director’s investigations.”

The records included emails with his sister Jane, his former fiancee Emma English, his business partners and friends. Among the issues under investigation by the CEA is Delaney’s role in a company called Pillarview that was involved with his personal finances but was owned and run by two of Delaney’s friends.

Judge Reynolds has awarded the CEA its legal costs against Delaney which are likely to be in the region of €1m from the lengthy High Court battle. Paul McGarry, Delaney’s senior counsel, had suggested Delaney would appeal the judgment given that it related to legislation that had not been litigated previously.

Delaney’s appeal will be up for mention in the Court of Appeal on February 17. It is open to the CEA to apply for an order requiring Delaney to lodge security of a cash payment to court to protect against the costs the agency would incur in defending the appeal.

​In a 2020 affidavit Delaney said he was living in a two-bedroom apartment in England and complained that he had modest resources compared to the CEA and FAI. His UK business consultancy, Delay Ltd, reported retained profits of €382,000 up to the end of last November. JMPHE, an Irish company of which Delaney is a director and shareholder, reported in its recently filed accounts that it repaid a €255,000 debt to Delaney in 2022.

A solicitor for the former FAI boss did not respond to questions on Friday. Earlier that day, Roy Barrett, the FAI chairman who has announced he will shortly step down from the role he took up in January 2020, said he thought it “probable” that the “black cloud” from the Delaney investigation would still be hanging over the FAI three years after he started with the association “given the nature of these things”.

Barrett, a stockbroker, said he was surprised by many of the things he discovered in the FAI.

“It was different from what I had been used to,” he said. “All you can do is deal with things as they are presented to you. I was surprised by lots and lots of things.

“Just as with anything to do with the previous CEO or things going on with the ODCE (now CEA) I just took a view that that’s what happened. There’s parallel processes going on. We just have to deal with the consequences, focus on solving the problems and making it better rather than looking back in anger.”​​

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