THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REGIONAL GAME COUNCILS.
June 30th 2016
TO/ EACH RGC SECRETARY
NATIONAL EXECUTIVE MEMBERS & TRUSTEES
Dear Associate Member,
Leaving aside my disappointment at reading the correspondence (by email) from Mr. Desmond Crofton dated Wednesday 29th of June 2016, the purpose behind his email could, in my submission, be described as mischievous. Mr. Crofton has taken it upon himself not in his capacity as Director of the NARGC but in his capacity as a litigant to correspond with each of the named persons. As you are well aware the named persons represent either Regional Game Councils/County bodies which are affiliated by democratic vote as a constituent part of the NARGC. In addition he has taken it upon himself to direct correspondence to Associate Members. He has further, more worryingly, corresponded directly with persons who are named Defendants and potential witnesses in both High Court and Circuit Court litigation where he is the Prosecutor.
Mr. Desmond Crofton is the plaintiff in the proceedings entitled:-
(i) Desmond Crofton .v. The National Association of Regional Game Councils and Michael Fenlon, Barry Sullivan, Gerard Burns, Ray Divine, Shane O’Connor, John Flannery, Seamus Heraty, Padraig Breen, Margaret Neile, Tom O’Donnell, Seamus O’Brien, Pat Donlon, Paul Doran, Joe O’Loughlin, Des Furlong and John Diver, the High Court Rec No 2016/4849P;
(ii) And is a Defendant but prosecutor in Third Party proceedings entitled:-
Eamon Brennan v. the National Association of Regional Game Councils and Michael Fenlon, Barry Sullivan, Gerard Burns, Ray Divine, Shane O’Connor, John Flannery, Seamus Heraty, Padraig Breen, Margaret Neile, Tom O’Donnell, Seamus O’Brien, Pat Donlon, Paul Doran, Joe O’Loughlin, Des Furlong and John Diver and Desmond Crofton (15th named defendant) – Circuit Court – County of Dublin – in which proceedings despite compromise thereof by payment of litigation fees to Mr. Eamon Brennan, Mr. Desmond Crofton has persisted and issued third party proceedings against his Employer, namely the NARGC. He is a litigant in both the High Court and the Circuit Court against the National Association of Regional Game Councils. He is the prosecutor of those claims against the Association. Take note that the National Association of Regional Game Councils and indeed the National Executive whose names are recited above are defendants only. They are not the Prosecutors. They are not the Plaintiffs.
The Executive Committee of the National Association of Regional Game Councils does not wish to get engaged in response correspondence to Mr. Crofton. This letter is not addressed to him.
His correspondence, dated 29th June 2016, could be seen as contempt of Court. It could be seen as a direct attempt by a prosecutor in both the High Court and in the Circuit Court of a claim (namely Mr. Desmond Crofton) seeking to prejudice the position of either a party to the proceedings, namely the NARGC and the Executive Committee and could be interpreted as interference with possible witnesses, namely those named recipients of the email and/or the Executive Committee of the NARGC.
Such correspondence could be seen as prejudicial to the administration of justice where the motivation behind same is, in my submission, aimed at undermining the Defence as presently mounted against the claims of Mr. Desmond Crofton in both the High Court and Circuit Court above referred to. Contained within the correspondence from Mr. Crofton is an imputation of bias or impropriety which is denied by the Executive and further I, Michael Fenlon, appear to have been ‘singled out’ by Mr. Crofton where he is attacking not only me personally, but the chairmanship and Officers of the Association who, in the exercise of their constitutional powers and obligations, have been forced to act in the manner about which Mr. Crofton now complains.
Regarding the Interlocutory Injunctive hearing on the 22nd of June 2016, Orders of the Court were in fact not made but rather Undertakings were given by the NARGC and its Executive Committee. The substantive proceedings were not opened to the Court namely the Affidavit of Mr. Desmond Crofton or indeed the Affidavit of me, Michael Fenlon, in response thereto or the exhibits detailed in either affidavit were not opened to the Court.
Within the correspondence from Mr. Crofton he continuously refers to me, Michael Fenlon, as if I were the sole party defending the claims instituted by him. The defence of the proceedings in both the High Court and the Circuit Court have been undertaken by the Executive Committee for and on behalf of the entirety of the National Association of Regional Game Councils. No steps affected by the Executive Committee in its dealings for and behalf of the National Association of Regional Game Councils and/or its Officers and/or its Executive and/or its Employees were or are corrupt. To suggest same is defamatory and a shocking remark to be made by a litigant against the other party in proceedings when that litigant is corresponding with parties in what could be seen as an endeavour to prejudice or persuade the judicial process.
Further the Association has not agreed to pay the entirety of Mr. Crofton’s legal costs of the case. This is an inaccuracy. The only costs to be discharged are the costs of the interim and interlocutory application to be taxed in default of agreement. The Plenary Hearing remains and no costs have been agreed in respect thereof and no outcome determined.
There has been no throwing in of the towel. To the contrary, the National Association of Regional Game Councils and the Executive Committee have in the best interests of the Association appointed Ms. Penelope McGrath BL to independently investigate the complaints of the Executive Committee against Mr. Desmond Crofton.
I am restrained, by the rules of justice and principals of impartiality, from commenting upon that investigation for fear that my words would be interpreted by Mr. Crofton as some kind of bias or undermining of the independent investigation.
I specifically deny any bias or malice on my part.
I further note that Mr. Crofton has circulated within his last letter certain correspondence, although not all of the correspondence, relevant to his purported claim. Mr. Crofton has admitted circulating correspondence which again is an attempt by him to prejudice one of the parties in the proceedings namely the defendant.
Where I am singled out by Mr. Crofton in his correspondence, where he knows by reason of his having instituted proceedings in the High Court and in the Circuit Court against the NARGC, that I am precluded by reason of ongoing litigation and fear of interfering with the independent investigation from responding to each and every slur and allegation raised by him, to include matters within his email of the 29th of June, where I am not in a position to answer my accuser, where he has previously indicated and alleged bias on my part, and where any substantive response would be perceived by him as “further (alleged) bullying”. I am constrained to simply refer you to the facts of which you may be aware and the Rules and Constitution of our Association.
Mr. Crofton, as a paid Employee of the Association, has alleged ‘bullying’ and ‘bias’ and ‘impropriety’ against Officers of the Association in his miscellany of emails and correspondence when he knows he has the veil of protection of his Contract of Employment. Any response to him is perceived by him as ‘bullying’. There is no discourse. There is no two-way correspondence. He would appear to wish it “his way or no way”. The Executive is restrained by both rules of natural justice from making comment whilst Mr Crofton, who has no such constraint it would appear, is shouting from the roof-tops, his accusations that the NARGC is guilty of corruption, bias, bullying and all manner of wrongful behaviour. We, the Executive, for reply must await the outcome of the Independent Investigation.
I cannot by correspondence, risk being accused of prejudicing the administration of justice where at all material times both the High Court and Circuit Court proceedings in which the NARGC have been named, have been defended to the fullest by the Executive Committee not for its own personal benefit but for the benefit of the entire Association.
Mr. Crofton has failed to explain in his correspondence that he (by way of one sided application i.e. ex parte) obtained an injunction against the NARGC on the 1st of June (Wednesday) with his Interlocutory application returnable for less than 48 hours later on the 3rd of June (the Friday). At that juncture, with DAC Beachcroft Solicitors representing the Insurers of the NARGC and with Connellan Solicitors as the NARGC Solicitors seeking to protect the interests of the NARGC, where time was necessary in order to file replying affidavits, continuation of the Court orders which were obtained on a one sided basis on Wednesday the 1st of June were continued. The matter was returnable to the 22nd of June. I repeat the 22nd of June was an Interlocutory Hearing only. It is not the full Plenary Hearing. At all material times the National Association of Regional Game Councils has dealt with matters of all nature whether its Employees, its Officers, its members or with third parties in accordance with natural and constitutional justice and any allegation of corruption as intimated by Mr. Crofton in his email is categorically denied. No refusal on my part regarding renewal of an undertaking occurred and to the contrary on the advice of our Senior Counsel, Mr. John Rogers S.C., the interlocutory undertakings were given. An interlocutory undertaking is an undertaking given purely for the purpose of keeping matters in status quo until a decision is given on the merits of the case at the Plenary Hearing. At no material time has the merit of the case raised by Mr. Crofton been tested. That is a matter for another day.
Finally the Executive Committee is not seeking to cancel a general meeting of the Association to stifle debate. Mr. Crofton of all people is well aware, he being the prosecutor of interlocutory proceedings which resulted in undertakings on the part of the NARGC and inter alia not to take further steps on foot of any information gathered at a meeting on the 30th of May 2016, that on foot of that undertaking no proper debate can take place. The undertaking which was given by the NARGC to Mr. Crofton was at his behest and request and accordingly by reason of the institution of proceedings he is the one stifling debate.
There is a shocking comment made in the penultimate paragraph of the email from Mr. Crofton. He is alleging that through the legitimate actions of the Executive Committee that I, Michel Fenlon, am guilty of appalling impropriety and wrongdoing. This is a defamation of the highest order.
Where Mr. Crofton is a prosecutor of High Court and Circuit Court proceedings against the NARGC I do not see how he personally, as a litigant, can echo a call for a general meeting of the NARGC, the Defendant, at which he would like to hear debate (whether he tapes it surreptitiously or otherwise).
Finally I am bemused by the last paragraph of the email of Mr. Crofton where he states “I have no interest in engaging in a tit for tat series of circulated correspondence”. This is curious in circumstances where the provenance of strings of correspondence and emails appears to be Mr. Crofton.
The interests of the organisation are uppermost in my mind. I am not a paid employee. I have no financial interest or benefit to derive from my protection of the Association. Information is not being withheld in a manner or fashion which Mr. Crofton would appear to suggest. Rather, by reason of his having instituted injunctive proceedings, certain matters and material and correspondence and detail are now sub judice and/or the open discussion thereof, without regard to the parameters of the High Court undertaking, could undermine the Independent Investigation. Accordingly I am the person who is stifled. I am the person who is not permitted by reason of High Court proceedings to engage in a tit for tat series of communication with Mr. Crofton. He has levelled serious allegations against me personally. He has levelled serious allegations against the Executive Committee. He has levelled serious allegations against the entire Association. Until such time as the Independent Investigation has been completed and/or until such time as a full Plenary Hearing of the High Court (and Circuit Court) proceedings have taken place, the merits of the matter cannot be addressed for fear of contempt of Court.
All of us are bound by the Rules and Constitution of the Association. All of us are bound by the rules of fair administration of justice. As my letter of the 28th of June indicated, I am not seeking to cancel meetings. To the contrary I have indicated that as soon as the independent investigation is complete, such meeting will be held. No one is more concerned and eager to have that meeting than myself and the Executive Committee. It is hoped that such Meeting will take place by the 6th August next at which time the Independent Investigation Report, warts and all, will (hopefully) be completed and presented.
Therefore, I urge that:-
- i) Nobody attends the purported EGM which could be an unlawful or contemptuous meeting.
- ii) That all persons exercise patience and consideration.
iii) That you trust that I have only the best interests of the Association at heart.
- iv) Please await the outcome of the Investigative Report, which will be shared as soon as it is ready.
Our side of the story (by that I mean my story and that of the Executive) must unfortunately remain untold until such time as the Independent investigation has taken place. I give you a solemn undertaking that when that Investigation has been completed, regardless of the outcome, I will make myself available to answer any questions no matter how hard or hurtful.
This present sorry saga is not of my making and to say the least, the personal attacks against me and unfounded allegations made, have been staggering, shocking and at times disgusting. I do not use these words lightly.
In the meantime I would ask all Delegates, RGC Chairmen, Secretaries and Hon. Treasurers and Officers of RGC’s, not to do anything which could impinge on the outcome of the Independent Investigation.