Four prosecution barristers in David Drumm trial paid €1.12m

David Drumm

By Gordon Deegan

The four-strong barrister team who made the case that led to the jailing of former Anglo Irish Bank CEO, David Drumm were paid €1.123m (incl VAT) for their work.

The four barristers representing the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the marathon trial at Dublin Circuit Court shared daily pay of €10,000.

That is according to new figures released by the Freedom of Information Unit at the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The prosecution team was made up of Paul O’Higgins SC, Mary Rose Gearty SC, Sinead McGrath BL and Diana Stuart BL.

Mr Drumm was jailed for six years in June after being convicted for his role in a €7.2bn fraud perpetrated at the peak of the banking crisis in 2008.

The FOI figures reveal that Mr O’Higgins and Ms Gearty were each paid a €40,000 (ex VAT) brief fee to take on the case while Ms McGrath’s and Ms Stuart each received a brief fee of €26,667 (ex VAT).

The brief fees paid in the trial were the highest paid by the DPP for any trial in 2018 due to the complexity of the case.

In addition, Mr O’Higgins and Ms Gearty each received a daily refresher fee of €3,000 (ex-VAT) while their colleagues, Ms McGrath and Ms Stuart each received a daily refresher €2,000 (ex-VAT)

As a result, the legal team received an aggregate total of €10,000 for attending court for each day of the 16-week-long trial.

The defence side comprised of barristers Brendan Grehan SC, Bernard Condon SC along with Lorcan Staines BL and Tessa White BL and their fees would be on par with their colleagues on the opposing side giving an overall bill of around €2.2m for the barristers in the case.

The massive bill to the tax-payer for the trial contributed to the spend by the DPP on barristers for the first half of this year increasing by 12% on the same period last year going from €8.73m to €9.77m.

However, new data protection rules in place as a result of the recent introduction of the GDPR framework has resulted in the DPP’s FOI’s unit departing from previous practice and declining to state what each named barrister on the prosecution side received.

Instead, the DPP FOI state that counsel ‘A’ and counsel ‘B’ believed to be Mr O’Higgins and Ms Gearty received €370,953 and €367,263.

In addition, the two junior counsel, Counsel ‘C’ and Counsel ‘D’ received €255,894 and €129,023. It is not known which amount Ms McGrath and Ms Stuart received of the two amounts.

Also, in relation to the top-earning 20 barristers for the first six months, the DPP FOI unit hasn’t disclosed their names - unlike before - and instead ranks the barristers from counsel ‘A’ to counsel ‘Y’.

Two earned over €300,000 with the top earner receiving €377,392 in six months with the second highest €370,606

The FOI until declined to name the counsel concerned stating that it would involve the disclosure of personal information.

The unit stated: “In declining this part of your request, I am also mindful of the Office of the DPP’s obligations and responsibilities under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

A spokeswoman for the DPP said on Friday: “I can confirm that the FOI Unit in the Office of the DPP has departed from previous practice over recent years by choosing not to disclose the names of counsel. The reason for this is due largely to recent data protection legislation and in particular this Office's obligations under the GDPR.”

On the new GDPR rules preventing the disclosure of the top paid barristers' names, Catherine Murphy TD said: "In this instance I’m not convinced that there’s been the necessary balancing test done to justify the redactions.This case could provide an opportunity to seek an assessment paper showing the balancing of the different rights.*

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