Northern Ireland news

Proceedings adjourned in Frampton/McGuigan case after 10,000 potentially relevant emails discovered

Carl Frampton arrives at Belfast High Court. Picture by Hugh Russell.

MORE than 10,000 emails potentially relevant to boxer Carl Frampton's legal battle with ex-manager Barry McGuigan have just been discovered, the High Court heard today.

A judge was previously told the electronic messages were either lost or deleted from the McGuigan family's Cyclone Promotions account.

But in an unexpected development on day 20 of the multi-million pound trial, it emerged that masses of archived emails were found on the company's systems last week.

Proceedings were adjourned as a "mammoth" trawl through all the newly-located material continued.

Mr Frampton (33) is suing Mr McGuigan and Cyclone for alleged withheld earnings.

In a counter action, the former two-weight world champion is facing a claim for breach of contract by quitting the organisation in August 2017. Both men deny any wrongdoing.

During his evidence last week, Mr McGuigan's promoter son was pressed about company emails relating to eight fights under scrutiny.

Blain McGuigan told the court they were deleted to free up space ahead of a planned switch in company accounts in 2017.

Members of the Cyclone team had been advised to get rid of old correspondence no longer relevant to future events, he said.

The migration process was also said to have resulted in "irretrievable" emails.

But on Friday it emerged that batches have now been found on Cyclone accounts, with further checks carried out over the weekend.

The court was told that 2,600 emails were located in Blain McGuigan archives; around 1,000 in Barry McGuigan's; 5,000 in his wife Sandra's; and a potentially higher figure in the account of another son, Jake McGuigan.

At one point Mr Justice Huddleson said: "Even on a preliminary discussion you are talking about nine to ten thousand emails."

Gavin Millar QC, for Mr Frampton, argued that large numbers of digital documents of no real relevance should not be disclosed en masse at such a late stage, incurring extra time and costs.

"The predicament we face at the moment is what appears to us to be an example of document dumping," he said.

According to Mr Millar the question of gaining access to emails had been an issue before the trial began, with a figure of 270 identified back in May 2019.

"Large numbers of emails, both external and internal, over the four-year period at issue relating to my client's promotions and fights must have existed and/or must still exist," Mr Millar contended.

The development led to evidence being put on hold so that lawyers can examine all of the newly discovered material.

Counsel for the McGuigan family and Cyclone Promotions stressed his instructing solicitor carried out discovery obligations "diligently and professionally throughout".

Liam McCollum QC said: "This is not of his making at all, but I haven't got to the bottom of the reasons why this has occurred so late because I have been concentrating on what has to be provided now and that's a mammoth task, we have been working all weekend at it."

Responding to the suggestion that everything was "dumped" on the other side, Mr McCollum insisted all documents were relevant to the case.

"Part of my learned friend's case is that we are hiding material," he said.

"Therefore we have to say you are entitled to see it all, to prove that we are not hiding anything."

He added: "Anything that is relevant to a Mr Frampton fight or Mr Frampton's sponsorship is included in the overall mass of emails that are all in the cloud.

"What we are trying to do is look to see which ones have been emerging in evidence during the trial and isolating those out.

"Some of them are banal, but they are banal ones that have been touched upon by the evidence."

Adjourning the hearing so that the process can continue, the judge told counsel: "I will require an affidavit as to how all of this came about."

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