Thursday 8 December 2016

Garda and wife probed by GSOC after it checked reporter's phone

Paul Williams

Published 21/01/2016 | 02:30

Independent TD Clare Daly. Photo: Tom Burke
Independent TD Clare Daly. Photo: Tom Burke

A garda and his wife discovered they were being probed by GSOC after the watchdog secretly accessed a journalist's phone records.

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The controversial probe was launched after TD Clare Daly lodged a complaint, alleging that gardaí had 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 the morning after the arrest by people, including political journalist Senan Molony.

GSOC officers 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.

"The garda was called in for a meeting with GSOC on July 10 last year, a full two- and-a-half years after the Daly incident was reported," a friend of the officer told the Irish Independent.

"He was informed that he was being investigated after being implicated in the leaking of information about Clare Daly's arrest.

"He assumed that he had probably looked the incident up on Pulse because of all the publicity but he was shocked when he discovered that GSOC had his private phone records, along with those of his wife and Senan Molony.

"They then asked him did he know the woman whose name the phone was registered in and he explained that it was his wife's maiden name.

"He quickly cleared up the issue by explaining that he was coaching the journalist's children in a local club and had been in regular contact with all the parents, informing them of training and upcoming matches," the friend added.

Despite giving the investigators a full explanation, the officer was quizzed by GSOC investigators in the company of his solicitor for more than three hours.

The garda's Twitter and Facebook accounts were also accessed. It is understood the garda and his wife are considering legal action against GSOC for infringing their right to privacy.

The friend said: "They are both devastated to think that an agency of the State had been trawling through their private affairs like they were criminals.

"He (the garda) has never been the subject of any GSOC complaint or investigation. He was singled out because one of the parents of the children he coaches happens also to be a journalist.

"Does this mean that gardaí can no longer have friends who happen to work in media? It is ridiculous."

Irish Independent

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