News Politics

Friday 22 August 2014

Judge's scathing criticism of serious misinformation in 'Sunday Times' article

Fionnan Sheahan

Published 12/06/2014 | 02:30

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Mr Justice John Cooke
Mr Justice John Cooke

'The Sunday Times' has been forced to stand by its story on the Garda Ombudsman bugging allegations, after it was described by the Cooke Report as "seriously inaccurate".

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Retired High Court judge John Cooke is particularly critical of the story about the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission's bugging investigation in 'The Sunday Times', saying the article "contains misinformation in relation to the investigation and its outcome".

Despite the damning indictment of the respected former High Court judge, the newspaper is still standing by the veracity of the story.

A spokesman for the newspaper said: "We stand over the story and have no further comment. We will be following up on Sunday."

'The Sunday Times' Irish edition is part of Rupert Murdoch's News International.

Mr Cooke dedicates an entire section of his report to 'The Sunday Times Article' which set off a chain of events around the GSOC controversy.

"It is clear of course that the information 'revealed' in 'The Sunday Times' article of 9th February 2014 is evidence of a serious breach of security of GSOC's confidential information because, although seriously inaccurate, it appears to have its source in information known only to those who were privy to the conduct and outcome of the P.I. Investigation (Public Interest Investigation).

"That being so, the investigation of that breach is unrelated to the supposed threats which were the subject of the P.I. Investigation and therefore outside the remit of the present Terms of Reference. I have been informed that the breach in question is the subject of an internal inquiry by GSOC," the report says.

Breach

Mr Cooke is highly critical of the leak of information from GSOC and sets out how the account of the investigation was inaccurate.

"Having regard to the character of that breach, its investigation is not in any event suitable for an ad hoc non-statutory inquiry of the present kind with no competence to compel the provision of information and no authority to determine issues of fact or resolve disputes as to truth and credibility.

"It will be noted, however, that the article contains misinformation in relation to the investigation and its outcome.

"GSOC's 'Wi-Fi network' was not compromised to 'steal emails, data and confidential reports'. Insofar as the sweep examined a 'Wi-Fi network' it was confined to the wireless devices of the audio-visual equipment and was unconnected to any data storage.

"There was no 'second Wi-Fi system' which had been created using an 'IP 52 address in Britain'," the report says

And no "Government-owned technology" had been used to "hack into emails", it states.

'The Sunday Times' Editor Frank Fitzgibbon was unavailable for comment yesterday.

News International is currently in the process of culling more jobs in its Irish division in a fresh bid to save costs.

'The Sunday Times' in Ireland has been slashing overheads in recent years in response to shrinking circulation and advertising revenues.

Irish Independent

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