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The IRFU has denied claims that they hired a former British army spy 'to search for bugs' after the 2007 World Cup.

The claims came in a new book called Client Confidential – written by Sean Hartnett - not his real name. He says the IRFU brought him in to investigate leaks from a post World Cup review meeting.

He concluded that the summit at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin had been covertly recorded and then info passed on to media. Reports were able to deliver a word by word account of the meeting of IRFU officials.

The spy additionally claims the IRFU had him search their Ballsbridge office for secret listening devices. Hartnett claims that he gained unauthorised entry to the office in a bid to test their security.

He lifted an employee’s swipe access card and entered the building through the underground car park. The spy painted a vivid picture of his escapades.

He described sneaking around the building before boldly walking straight into Philip Browne’s office, where he managed to go through confidential files belonging to the IRFU’s CEO.

“From there I moved to a room next door where player information, including salaries, was openly on display. I now knew how much Paul O’Connell [the former Ireland captain] was earning.

“As I walked around the building that morning, picking up information as I went, not one single person asked who I was or what I was doing.”

The IRFU however say the account of his work is fictionalised and add that while the author may have worked for them he likely "exercised extreme degrees of artistic licence"

IRFU: Spy story is fictionalised 

In a statement issued to the IRFU say the account of his work is fictionalised and that the author likely "exercised extreme degrees of artistic licence"

“In 2008 the Committee of the Irish Rugby Football Union, sanctioned the retention of RMI, a highly regarded and reputable risk assessment and security consultancy, to conduct a wide ranging risk assessment of the then newly occupied IRFU headquarter’s building , IT systems, hotel accommodation, meeting facilities being used by the Irish team and IRFU and our general approach to business confidentiality, in line with best business practises of the day.

“The IRFU continues to conduct such assessments across all of its business operations.

“It is apparent the author of ‘Client Confidential’ has fictionalised many elements in the account of the IRFU’s engagement with RMI and has exercised extreme degrees of artistic licence in his portrayal of the process undertaken.

“For the record the IRFU has never retained the services of, or worked with, a ‘Seán Hartnett’”.

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