Rory McIlroy is alleged to have erased data from up to eight cell phones and electronic devices that may have included valuable information pertaining to his lawsuit against Horizon Sports Management, lawyers for Horizon say.
The claim made by Horizon's lawyers states that devices belonging to three others relevant to the case, including McIlroy’s father, Gerry, were also wiped. The claims are based on a court application from Horizon Sports Management, among other companies involved in the case, seeking court permission for further discovery of documents and inspections of devices belonging to McIlroy and others.
An Irish Times report indicates that Horizon's lawyers are also after material from phones belonging to Donal Casey, who formerly worked for Horizon but is now chief executive of Rory McIlroy Inc.—the golfer's current management company—and Sean O'Flaherty, McIlroy's personal assistant. Of interest to the defendants are files including text messages, messages sent using What's App and material stored on the cloud.
Paul Sreenan, a lawyer for McIlroy's ex-management team, said his clients brought the application because McIlroy had not cooperated in responding to requests for more information in the case. Better disclosure is required in order for the defendants to prove their counter-claim of an outstanding $3 million McIlroy owes in off-course revenues, according to Sreenan.
McIlroy’s alleged actions are “incredible for a person in this position,” said Sreenan.
According to an Irish Independent report, Sreenan thinks his clients, if granted access to the devices, may be able to recover some of information that’s allegedly been deleted. McIlroy initially claimed he changed devices due to his impermanent lifestyle and to dodge calls from journalists. Sreenan’s clients believe McIlroy would not have done so without backing up important information elsewhere.
McIlroy's attorney, Michael Cush, said in court that there was "nothing unusual" about McIlroy's activity with his phones, and that the golfer prefers to have the latest model and often deletes data when switching.
Days after splitting from Horizon Sports Management in May of 2013, McIlroy sued the company over an “unconscionable” contract that he says cost him $6.8 million in commission fees. McIlroy alleges that Horizon is not entitled to certain fees to be paid in the future pertaining to his massive, nine-figure deal with Nike. The suit also claims that McIlroy had "markedly inferior" commercial terms compared to Graeme McDowell, another Horizon client, despite being assured their contracts were similar.
The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in January. McIlroy said in October he would take a break from golf to prepare for the case. Since then, he has played in the DP World Tour Championship, where he recorded a T2 finish, and the Australian Open, where he finished T15.