Friday 24 October 2014

Guerin probe became kangaroo court and I was victim – Shatter

Published 20/06/2014 | 02:30

Former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter
Former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter

JUSTICE Minister Frances Fitzgerald is standing over the findings of the Guerin Report despite her predecessor Alan Shatter's stinging criticism of the investigation into allegations of garda misconduct.

Mr Shatter launched an unprecedented attack on barrister Sean Guerin over his handling of the inquiry into claims of garda malpractice raised by garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

The former justice minister, who resigned the day before the report was published, said he was "secretly put on trial" by Mr Guerin's "kangaroo court" without being given a chance to respond.

"I believe no one in the future requested to undertake such a task should be enabled to take to him or herself the role of investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner and entirely ignore fair procedures prescribed by our courts," he added.

Mr Guerin told the Irish Independent he would not be commenting on Mr Shatter's accusations.

Mr Shatter also questioned whether the "leadership" of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) should remain in place following the findings of retired Judge John Cooke's report into the bugging scandal.

Mr Cooke found there was no evidence of Garda surveillance on the watchdog's headquarters.

The GSOC bugging controversy sparked by an article in 'The Sunday Times' was also instrumental in Mr Shatter's downfall.

Mr Shatter said Mr Cooke's findings "raise genuine concerns as to GSOCs capacity to undertake and comply with its statutory duties under its present leadership". He said the findings of the GSOC security sweep amounted to nothing and were an embarrassment for the watchdog.

'Disturbing'

He said the evidence given to an Oireachtas hearing by GSOC officials was "disturbing" and fuelled speculation that his statement to the Dail on the issue was inaccurate.

During a Dail debate on Mr Cooke's Report, Minister Fitzgerald said its findings confirmed Mr Shatter's initial statement on the affair in which he dismissed 'The Sunday Times' article as "baseless innuendo".

Minister Fitzgerald called on members of the Oireachtas to "reflect" on criticisms of the former justice minister at the time the allegations first emerged.

However, a spokeswoman for Minister Fitzgerald said she still had confidence in the GSOC board and stood over the findings of the Guerin Report.

"The minister has made her views known in her previous statements on both Guerin and Cooke as well as in the Dail today," she said.

Mr Guerin was highly critical of Mr Shatter and his officials in the Department of Justice for their handling of Sgt McCabe's complaints.

Speaking on the report's findings for the first time, Mr Shatter said the report was "fundamentally flawed" and there was an "unprecedented rush to judgement".

He was seriously concerned about Mr Guerin's failure to interview him or any GSOC officials who had previously examined Sgt McCabe's allegations.

Irish Independent

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