Northern Ireland

Four thousands pages of documents in Events Company fraud case

Former Events Company chief executive Janice McAleese
Former Events Company chief executive Janice McAleese Former Events Company chief executive Janice McAleese

A fraud case against the former boss of a failed public body set to attract top show business and sporting stars to Northern Ireland runs to more than 4,000 pages, a court has heard.

Lawyers for ex-NI Events Company chief executive Janice McAleese and a co-accused revealed they are seeking exceptional legal aid due to the volume and complexity of the proceedings.

McAleese, 54, ran the now defunct quango which received cash from Stormont to promote concerts, motor sport races and other major events.

Controlled by the former Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, the company folded back in 2007, leaving debts in the region of £1.6m.

Since then several board members have accepted directors disqualifications.

McAleese, of Elvanfoot in Lanarkshire, faces charges of conspiracy to defraud and misconduct in public office between October 2004 and January 2006.

Court documents allege she dishonestly caused or permitted excessive fees to be paid to Damian Fleming or Schism Ltd.

It is also claimed that she "deceived the board of the Northern Ireland Events Company in relation to a funding agreement for £160,000 and payments to others".

Fleming is charged with conspiracy to defraud and aiding or abetting misconduct in public office between the same dates.

The 53-year-old, of Station Road in Maghera, Co Derry, allegedly aided in the £160,000 funding agreement deception.

Neither defendant was present as the case was mentioned at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

Fleming's barrister, Joe Brolly, told the court 4,500 pages of documents have been served on defence lawyers by the prosecution.

He requested a three-month adjournment for time to obtain the level of legal aid needed to go through all the papers.

"It took the Department three years to investigate this case," Mr Brolly said.

He added that a probe by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers into the NI Events Company's affairs cost up to £1.4m.

"This case is extremely complex," Mr Brolly insisted.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was also told defence teams have yet to decide if they will seek to have the prosecution halted before it reaches trial.

She agreed to adjourn proceedings until August 29.