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Certified Safes Ireland™ Force The Irish Times To Retract False Crime Figures And Lloyd's Of London Reference Used In Merrion Vaults "Article".

Posted by   Alan Redd
merrion vaults

Merrion Vaults

Certified Safes Ireland™ Force The Irish Times To Retract False Crime Figures And Lloyd's Of London Reference Used In Merrion Vaults "Article".

When Seamus Fahy talked about how he launched his business ventures to Gary Fox of The Entrepreneur Experiment Podcast in 2020, he said the following: “I had a couple of friends in the Irish Times and the Irish Independent” “and obviously, how many people read the Irish Independent and the Irish times, so that gives you credibility”. 

The problem for Mr Fahy’s “friends in the Times and the Independent” now, is that it seems the “credibility” bestowed on Merrion Vaults, Fahy’s basement safe deposit box rental business based in Dublin, Ireland, started to fall apart as soon as some obvious questions were recently asked. 

Irish Times Coverage Of Merrion Vaults

On the 2nd of March 2021 we wrote to the editor of the Irish Times, Paul O’Neill in a communication marked private, drawing his attention to some significant discrepancies with several security and certification claims made by Seamus Fahy and his business Merrion Vaults.

Coverage of Merrion Vaults by the Irish Times, particularly during Covid-19 lockdowns, had been quite remarkable as it saw the publication of a false narrative that household burglary was rising, on two separate occasions. The truth is a substantial 44% decrease in burglaries had been recorded by the CSO at that time. One article, by Barry O’ Halloran, even made the false claim that Lloyd’s of Londonapproved” security at all Merrion Vaults branches.

Serious Discrepancies

There were two particularly serious discrepancies with the long-term security and certification claims made by Merrion Vaults that we related to Mr O’Neill:

1. The Long Standing Claim By Merrion Vaults That Their Strongroom Was Tested And Certified By VDS For Burglary And Fire Resistance Was Never True.

Merrion’s claim that their vault was “a graded VDS tested vault, unlike other bank vaults” in relation to their address at Hospitality House on Cumberland Street has been quite categorically refuted by Frederic Prudent head of the laboratory of mechanical security for VdS Schadenverhütung GmbH. The very same VDS that Merrion claimed had "tested" their "vault".

To be clear, the claim to VdS testing and certification is a legal claim to accredited burglary resistance and in the case of Merrion, also fire resistance under EU regulation 765/2008, the legal basis of accreditation for the certification (ISO/IEC 17065). This is the regulatory basis on which recommend insurance ratings for certified safes and strongrooms in Europe are based. In the case of Merrion Vaults the business has never had a VdS accredited certified strongroom.

Just three weeks after we wrote confidentially to Mr O’Neill, the claim to VdS certified burglary and fire resistance, which had been displayed on Merrion Vaults website since 2014, was removed. This coincidence was so remarkable that we wrote to Mr O’Neill again on the 30th of March 2021 and asked if the Times had discussed the content of our private email, to which we had received no reply, with Merrion Vaults. We received a reply from the Times on the 6th of April 2021 acknowledging receipt of our email, telling us the contents had been noted, but with no answer to the question forthcoming. 

2. Lloyd’s Of London Are Not In The Design And Construction Business.

In 2015 Seamus Fahy said this to Valerie Cox on RTE daytime radio in relation to Merrion Vaults, “bear in mind the whole facility was designed and constructed by Lloyd’s of London”. When asked about security in general by BBC Radio in 2017 Mr Fahy said, “We’re insured with Lloyd’s of London and before we even spec the vault, we sit down with them, and they tell us what type of specification they require.” The interviewers sounded impressed, but when we sent audio clips of these statements to a senior Lloyd’s representative, we were promptly informed that the issue had been “escalated to London".

Lloyd’s of London is not an insurance company but an insurance market where syndicates operate to cover risks. To say “we’re insured with Lloyd’s of London” is technically incorrect but somewhat understandable, however, to claim that Lloyd’s are in the design and construction business, meeting up with Seamus Fahy at his convenience would be comically ludicrous had the claim not been taken seriously by RTE and others in the media.

Paul O’Neill’s Strange Defence To The Press Ombudsman.

After our first emails to the editor of the Irish Times highlighting false claims published by the newspaper and seeing nothing from them indicating the slightest concern in correcting inaccuracies regarding Merrion Vaults, we wrote again to the Times regarding their most recent “article” on Merrion but this time we did so while informing the Press Ombudsman of our concerns.

This elicited a reply from Mr O’Neill, and it was a reply which contained what we thought was a stunning admission. Ironically, the admission was contained in a statement offered in defence of an Irish Times article in January 2021, during the second Covid-19 lockdown, which quoted Seamus Fahy of Merrion Vaults as saying, "research shows a rise in burglaries”, despite the fact, as we had pointed out, a 44% decrease in such crimes was recorded by the CSO. In defence of publishing this false statement for a second time Mr O’Neill said, “So far in 2021 five pieces have been published (by the Irish Times) that mention the pandemic related drop in burglaries”.

So, it appears the Irish Times were fully aware that Mr Fahy’s claims regarding burglary figures were false, but nevertheless published a contrived narrative for Merrion during lockdowns on two separate occasions. Merrion even offered a 25% discount to the over 70s, the exact group the Covid lockdown was designed to protect and for whom non-essential travel was most dangerous. 

Mr O’Neill’s statement pointing to other Irish Times articles that reflected the unprecedented drop in burglaries at that time also begs the question: was it only in Irish Times articles on Merrion Vaults that crime figures may have been grossly misrepresented to readers? 

A remarkable oversight for a “newspaper” that was the recipient of a News Brands Journalism Award in 2020 for the best coverage of Covid-19.

Press Ombudsman Comments On The Irish Times False Claims About Lloyd’s Of London And The Publishing Of False Burglary Statistics.

None of this escaped the attention of the Press Ombudsman who in officially upholding our complaints to the Times on Monday 14th of June 2021 commented the following:

Breach of Principle 1 − Truth and Accuracy (Press code of practice)

By amending the article online, the newspaper effectively acknowledged that there were inaccuracies in the article. The newspaper offered to publish a letter as a form of redress to Mr Redd in relation to a statement in the article attributed to the company’s co-founder, and it amended the article online in relation to other parts of the article complained about by Mr Redd. In my view this was not a sufficient response to resolve the complaint. Where a significant inaccuracy occurs Principle 1 requires the press to correct the inaccuracy promptly and with due prominence. Given the inaccuracy in the article about the level of burglaries an offer to publish a letter and the amendment of the online article was not enough to avoid a breach of Principle 1. The newspaper when its attention was drawn to the inaccuracy should, in order to comply with Principle 1, have published promptly a clarification or a correction. 

The defence put forward by the editor that the newspaper had published around the same period a number of articles informing readers that the level of burglaries had declined during the covid lock-down is not persuasive. Also, not persuasive is the defence put forward by the editor that Lloyd’s of London had not complained about any inaccuracy in the article. When the newspaper’s attention was drawn to the article’s claims about Lloyd’s it deleted the reference online. As with the issue of the levels of burglaries this was not a sufficient response to avoid breaching Principle 1.”

Ombudsman Orders Irish Times To Publish Retraction:

The Irish Times was ordered to publish in full, promptly and on the same page as the original article the decision of the Ombudsman with due prominence on the same day of the week as the original article, unedited and without editorial commentary by way of a headline or otherwise. The decision was to be accompanied by the Press Council/Press Ombudsman logo. The article that gave rise to the complaint online was permanently annotated in a prominent manner at the top with a link to the decision. The upheld complaint had to be published in full or by use of a headlined link to the decision and had to be published on the homepage or as one of the first eight stories for a period of 24 hours, after which a link to the decision with the accompanying Press Council/Press Ombudsman logo and caption had to be available on the website for a further week.

Merrion’s “Friends in the Irish Times”:

Of course, none of this will edit the last eight years of Merrion’s dramatic claims being broadcast and published nationwide. It is clear that a spectacular failure in due diligence by journalists and some in the insurance industry must have occurred for such an extraordinary narrative to be sustained by Merrion Vaults without basic questions being asked as it evolved and manifested into greater levels of unchecked exaggeration. 

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