Court hears extradition of man who claims to be paid Garda informer would be "abuse of process"

By Ann O'Loughlin

The extradition of an Irish man who claims he was a paid Garda informer to France from the UK would be "an abuse of process" the High Court in Dublin has heard.

The man says he was a Covert Human Intelligence Source for Gardai when he was arrested in France 17 years ago on drug trafficking offences, and was subsequently given a four year prison sentence.

He never served that sentence.

Earlier this year he was arrested and detained in England on foot of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by the French Authorities in relation to the sentence.

He opposes the request for his surrender.

In the extradition proceedings due before an English court the man seeks to use documents he has obtained from the Gardai in his pending action against the Irish State over its alleged failure to protect him after he was arrested in France.

In his claim against the Garda Commissioner, Ireland and the Attorney General the man seeks damages for alleged negligence, breach of duty, breach of contract and alleged misrepresentations.

He claims in the late 1990s he entered into an agreement with the Gardai to act as an informant on suspected drug traffickers.

He claims his actions led to the arrest of drug traffickers responsible for importing drugs into Ireland.

It was part of the alleged agreement it is further claimed that the Gardai would take all steps to safeguard his safety, keep his identity confidential and protect him from criminal prosecution in Ireland or abroad.

Following his arrest and conviction in France he claims the Gardai failed to intervene with the French authorities.

He claims the Gardai knew in advance about his expedition to France in 2000, which involved a plan to move drugs from Spain to Ireland.

Following his arrest he claims French police traveled to Ireland to check his claims he was an informant, but says the Irish authorities failed to engage in any meaningful way to ensure his safety from prosecution.

The State opposes that claim and says while it did pay the man for information it rejects his claims it agreed to protect him from prosecution if he was arrested in another jurisdiction.

In 2016 he secured an order from Ms Justice Marie Baker for the discovery of certain documents from the Gardai which he says supports his damage claim.

The defendants claimed privilege over the documents on grounds including that handing them over would cause a risk to life and would be an operational security risk.

At the High Court today Hugh O'Keeffe SC for the man told Ms Justice Marie Baker his client wants the High Court to give his Irish lawyers permission to allow his UK lawyers use the documents that were the subject of the 2016 discovery order in order to defeat the extradition request.

Counsel said it would be "an abuse of process" if the man was surrendered to France.

It is the man's case the abuse is triggered by the alleged failure by the Gardai to give the French authorities a full and proper description of the relationship with the man, the extent of the authority to which he operated and the degree of assurance given to him he would receive immunity from prosecution.

Counsel added the Irish State would not suffer any meaningful prejudice if the documents were put before the English court.

The State, represented by Alice Fawsitt SC, opposed the application on grounds including there would be an absence of control over the use of the documents.

Ms Justice Baker, who agreed the application was both unusual and urgent, adjourned the matter to a date in April to allow both sides make further legal submissions on the matter.

Most Read in Ireland