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Wednesday 17 September 2014

GSOC director who led 'bugging' inquiry resigns

Paul Williams

Published 30/06/2014 | 02:30

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The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission offices in Dublin
The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission offices in Dublin

THE Garda Ombudsman Commission's deputy director of investigations has tendered his resignation from the watchdog body.

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Ray Leonard has been a leading member of GSOC since its establishment in 2007 and was described as a "competent and capable investigator" with considerable experience in law enforcement.

Mr Leonard led the GSOC Public Interest Investigation into claims that the watchdog's offices were under surveillance, which was the subject of the Cooke Report.

It is understood that his decision to tender his resignation on Saturday evening came as a shock to GSOC's three commissioners, Simon O'Brien, Carmel Foley and Kieran Fitzgerald.

A source said that Mr Leonard had not indicated that he was going to leave the organisation and cleared out his desk over the weekend.

Yesterday, a spokesperson for the watchdog confirmed that a member of its investigative section tendered his resignation but would not reveal his identity.

The spokesperson said that it was not connected to recent controversies relating to the deterioration in relations between GSOC and the gardai.

The resignation comes just over two weeks after the Cooke Report found that there was no evidence that GSOC had been bugged.

GSOC has been at the centre of controversy over its handling of bugging allegations since the revelations were first made in the 'Sunday Times' in February.

Condemned

A barrister is conducting an internal investigation to discover the source of the leaks to the newspaper, which High Court judge John Cooke condemned as "seriously inaccurate".

The announcement came after the Irish Independent revealed that gardai in one of the country's biggest divisions had demanded the resignations of the three GSOC Commissioners.

Representatives of 1,000 rank-and-file officers based in Dublin said that they had "lost all confidence" in the GSOC leadership and want them to leave with "immediate effect".

The GRA committee in the South Central Division also claimed that the findings of the report showed that GSOC's probe into allegations of surveillance at its offices was "flawed and amounted to a neglect of duty".

At a meeting on Friday, the committee proposed a motion of no confidence in the commissioners, which will be discussed at the next meeting of the GRA's National Executive.

Last night, Damian McCarthy, the divisional representative on the GRA's Central Executive, described the watchdog's announcement yesterday as "bizarre".

"The resignation of a member of the investigative section is bizarre but it will have no bearing on our position. We were not seeking Mr Leonard's resignation because he is not one of the people in charge of the organisation," he added.

Government sources said they had no prior knowledge of Mr Leonard's decision to quit or the reason for it.

"We know what you know at this stage. But GSOC is an independent body and if they want to make any further comment, we are prepared to listen," said a senior government source.

Irish Independent

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