Pledge from former NI Events Company directors

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Ten former board members at the now defunct Northern Ireland Events Company are prepared to give pledges not to act as company directors, the High Court has heard.

A Stormont department had been seeking disqualification orders against the one-time representatives of a quango set up to attract showbusiness and sporting stars to the Province.

But lawyers disclosed that all but one of the 11 respondents have now signaled a willingness to give undertakings they will accept no further directorship roles for certain periods of time.

The alternative resolution is expected to be finalised when the case returns to court in September.

Applications were brought by the Department for the Economy following critical reports into the oversight and running of a body which folded back in 2007.

The 11 named in the papers are: Samuel Mervyn Elder, Jasper Perry, Gerry Lennon, Jim Rodgers, James Clarke, Thomas Alan Clarke, Paul Henry McWilliams, William David White, Aideen Corr, Victor Campbell Haslett, and Catherine Williamson.

Last year the NI Events Company’s former chief executive, Janice McAleese, was banned from acting as a company director for 14 years.

Her conduct had been heavily criticised in a report issued by the Northern Ireland Audit Office in September last year.

The Audit Office probe was also scathing in its assessment of oversight from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) for a body formed in 1997 to support major sports and music events.

It identified failures in the risk management process and in dealing with a whistleblower’s complaints.

Lawyers for some of those who sat on the NI Events Company’s board previously claimed they were being made scapegoats to deflect attention from civil servants who failed to provide proper scrutiny.

But at a hearing today it was revealed that all but one of the former directors have indicated they are willing give undertakings which would apply for a period to be agreed with the Department.

Mr Perry is the only respondent not to have set out such a position.

It is understood that some of the other ex-board members may still seek liberty to act as a director in exceptional circumstances during any disqualification period.

Adjourning the case until September, Master Kelly said it would allow time to finalise the expected outcome.