Haughey's fib comes home to roost

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Charles Haughey, the former Taoiseach, faces a humiliating sale of family silver in order to pay a crippling bill for legal costs later this month arising from his admission that he misled a judicial tribunal.

Assets said to be on offer to private bidders include Inishvickillaune, his private Atlantic island with its own nature reserve, and Abbeville, his Georgian stately home at Kinsealy, outside Dublin, with its large wooded estate, lake, racehorses and deer.

An executive in Mr Haughey's former accountancy firm is exploring how sales could realise funds to meet the legal costs. Discreet soundings are reportedly already being made among potential foreign buyers for the rocky island in the Blaskets off County Kerry.

In the early Eighties Mr Haughey, 72, built a substantial stone holiday home there where guests included his friend Francois Mitterrand, the French president.

Mr Haughey recently made redundant half the staff at the 280-acre Kinsealy estate, some with 27 years service. Such prime development land would command well over pounds 10m, but may not be sold in its entirety. Parts of the land belong to Mr Haughey's sons, who have built homes there.

Mr Haughey's financial problems go beyond the expected six-figure bill from own tribunal legal team. When the McCracken inquiry into payments to politicians holds its final session later this month to fix costs, senior sources say the retired politician will face a huge additional demand incurred by his own failure to tell the truth. That, in turn, forced tribunal officials to mount expensive international investigations to trace bank transactions arranged to conceal the destination of the Dunne gifts.

In a moment of high drama, Mr Haughey (above), four-time Irish prime minister, accepted in July he received pounds 1.3m from supermarket chief Ben Dunne, a confessional U-turn followed by an admission that he had misled the tribunal and his legal team.

Earlier he flatly denied receiving the funds. Mr Haughey also faces rigorous tax inquiries from the Revenue Commissioners, themselves under criticism for failures to verify how Mr Haughey funded a lifestyle costing, the tribunal heard, more than three times his salaried income.

Mr Haughey himself was dismissive of such detail. "I just want to say that I did not have a very lavish lifestyle, my work was my lifestyle. I never had to concern myself about my personal finances" he told the Tribunal.