SHE was noted for a no holds barred approach to the most delicate of topics when she hosted a late-night TV chat show.
And yesterday, nobody’s blushes were spared when Clare McKeon’s own legal team accused the former RTE presenter of acting dishonestly and of not being fit to be a company director.
The former RTE chat show host, who now heads Bliss Beauty Therapy Ltd, is fighting a personal injury claim from a customer who says she was hurt in the course of treatment.
Barrister Noel Cosgrave had been hired by Bliss’s solicitors, John Schutte Associates, to act in the injury case at Dublin Circuit Civil Court. But yesterday he mounted an astonishing attack on Miss McKeon and her husband Eamon McLoughlin.
It emerged that a cheque for €5,348 in legal fees bounced last November after it was sent to John Schutte Associates. As became clear at the court yesterday, the legal firm now no longer wants to represent Bliss Beauty Therapy in the case and wants its outstanding fees paid.
Mr Cosgrave’s astonishing submissions on Schutte’s behalf were frequently interrupted with protests by both a flabbergasted judge – who described his application to have the couple struck-off as directors of their own company as ‘perverse’ – and a barrister hired by Miss McKeon and Mr McLoughlin to represent them in yesterday’s hearing.
However, Mr Cosgrave persevered and insisted that Miss McKeon and Mr McLoughlin ‘acted dishonestly’ in dealing with the issue of legal fees.
He said: ‘A substantial amount of work was done on their behalf by John Schutte. At all times, it was made clear that funds for his work would be forthcoming
‘But a cheque they issued was not honoured by the bank and I say the directors of the company have acted dishonestly and inappropriately.
‘Nothing has happened since to honour that cheque. The fees have not been paid.’ And he called for the couple to be disqualified as directors of Bliss because he said John Schutte was ‘aware that the company is being put on the market for sale’.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane repeatedly asked Mr Cosgrave how he could make his application ‘while acting for the defendants’ company in the personal injury case but against the directors of the same company?’
She demanded: ‘How can you come in here and do this? I have never before heard of such an application in the Circuit Court.’ Mr Cosgrave insisted this was an ‘appropriate remedy’.
Representing Miss McKeon and Mr McLoughlin yesterday, barrister Carrie Jane Canniffe claimed that Mr Cosgrave’s argument for having them struck-off was ‘totally unfounded’.
She added that the application itself was amazing, and said Bliss was not in the process of being wound down.
Judge Linnane rejected Mr Cosgrave’s application, awarded costs against him and said the original personal injury case would go ahead next month.
She said: ‘This is an absolutely inappropriate application brought incorrectly. The normal course is for the person to sue on the cheque. I have never dealt with such an application before.’
She added: ‘The whole thing is misconstrued and inappropriate.’ Miss McKeon, 45, is listed as a director with Mr McLoughlin, also 45, of Sandycove-based Bliss.
The former Later With Clare host, who is contesting the personal injury case, was not at yesterday’s hearing. John Schutte Associates declined to comment.