Friday 28 July 2017

Judge received garda leaks on private citizens

Whistleblower retired Garda John Wilson
Whistleblower retired Garda John Wilson

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

THE judge at the centre of the garda whistleblower row admitted during legal proceedings that gardai leaked confidential information to him about a number of private individuals.

He used this information in a court case which took place before he was appointed to the bench.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has been informed of the admission, which has emerged hot on the heels of allegations that the same judge put pressure on garda penalty points whistleblower John Wilson to withdraw allegations against a senior member of the force.

The minister is currently seeking legal advice on what to do about the claim that Mr Wilson was pressurised. But the latest disclosure raises further questions about the judge's relationship with the gardai.

The Irish Independent has learnt that the judge, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was involved in a dispute which ended up in court several years ago.

In an affidavit from that case, which has been seen by this newspaper, the judge said that he had obtained information about a number of people from "confidential sources within An Garda Siochana".

This included information that gardai suspected the people involved of being engaged in criminal activity.

A copy of the affidavit was forwarded to Mr Shatter by Independent TD Thomas Pringle on March 12.

Mr Pringle told the minister that not only had the judge used confidential information obtained from gardai to sway a court, but that the information used was incorrect. He urged Mr Shatter to investigate.

The minister and the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) are already examining complaints by former garda John Wilson that the judge attempted to pervert the course of justice by asking him to drop a complaint about a senior officer who had cancelled the penalty points of a number of people.

Mr Wilson claims that the judge asked him to meetings twice last year. At the first meeting, in February 2013, the judge is alleged to have advised him to drop claims he had been making at the time about the abuse of the penalty points system and urged him to retire.

CONFIDENTIAL

A second meeting took place in May 2013, after Mr Wilson had retired. The judge is alleged to have asked Mr Wilson "as a favour" to drop a complaint against a senior named officer.

Mr Wilson says that he refused. The DPP is currently considering a file on the complaint against the senior officer.

In legal correspondence, solicitors acting for the judge confirmed that he had two meetings with Mr Wilson. However, they disputed Mr Wilson's allegations, saying they were "unfounded, vexatious and unsubstantiated".

Mr Shatter was made aware of this issue on March 2 by independent councillor Frank McBrearty Jnr. The minister's officials said this week that Mr Shatter was seeking legal advice in relation to the matters raised.

Irish Independent

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