Michael Lowry: 'disappointed'

THE Moriarty tribunal has circulated revised preliminary findings of its investigation into the awarding of the second mobile phone licence to affected parties in the past couple of days, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

It is understood Judge Moriarty has given people until early February to respond to the revised findings, suggesting he plans to publish his final report before the end of next month.

The revised findings come over a year after the tribunal first sent out preliminary findings to interested parties.

It was widely reported at the time that the controversial findings were strongly critical of more than 12 civil servants and their handling of the licence competition.

The civil servants are extremely angry about the findings. It is believed their argument is that the public hearings did not produce any evidence to back up this criticism.

The new draft of preliminary findings, issued late last week, come after a fresh round of public hearings last year.

There is intense speculation that, unless the revised findings are dramatically different, there is a strong likelihood of a legal challenge to the tribunal report.

Michael Lowry, who was communications minister at the time of the awarding of the licence, released a long statement early last week strongly criticising the tribunal for the conduct of its investigation and its high cost.

Lowry said he was "surprised and disappointed" the tribunal had refused to allow him, as the subject person of the inquiry, to be the last witness and "address all the evidence given to the tribunal about the licence process since I last gave my evidence in 2005".

Lowry said there was not a "shred of evidence since 2001 to indicate that I influenced the licence process. This is simply because it never ­happened".