Garda cleared of leaking TD arrest details
Published 17/05/2016 | 02:30
A three-year GSOC investigation into claims by Independent TD Clare Daly that gardaí leaked details of her arrest for suspected drink-driving has been closed after finding no evidence to support the allegation.
Last January, the Irish Independent revealed that a serving garda had been wrongly accused by the watchdog of leaking the information after it had secretly accessed a journalist's phone records.
GSOC questioned the detective after snooping on the phone and text data of 'Irish Daily Mail' political editor Senan Molony. However, it later transpired that the journalist was one of 50 parents whose children were being coached by the garda at a local rugby club.
The controversial probe was launched after Ms Daly had lodged a complaint alleging that gardaí leaked details of her arrest for suspected drink driving on January 28, 2013 - subsequent tests showed that Ms Daly was below the limit.
In her complaint, the Independent TD said she had been contacted on the morning after the arrest by a number of journalists, including Mr Molony.She gave GSOC access to her phone records, which showed she had received texts and calls from the journalist.
Last July, GSOC confirmed to the garda it had accessed Mr Molony's phone and text data over a 48-hour period - 24 hours either side of Ms Daly's arrest - without the journalist's knowledge.
Every number that had been in contact with Mr Molony was accessed and cross-checked.
When the garda was identified, his phone records and those of his wife were then trawled in a bid to establish if he had been in contact with any of the other gardaí in the days following Ms Daly's arrest.
That process involved checking the professions of the individuals who owned the phones contacted, including those of the parents whose children the officer had been coaching.
Eventually, GSOC identified the phone numbers of two other serving gardaí who are close friends of the officer. But the garda quickly clarified the situation when he was formally questioned about his contact with the journalist last summer.
Last week, the watchdog informed the officer's solicitor by letter that its investigation was now closed, with no further action being taken.
GSOC said its investigation "discloses no criminal misbehaviour by your client" and confirmed that no further action was being taken.
A friend of the garda says he is considering legal action against GSOC for breaching his right to privacy.