Gardaí have completed an investigation into the alleged online harassment of a journalist by former columnist Eoghan Harris and his wife Gwen Halley.
The Irish Independent has learned a file is to be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions after the couple were questioned by officers.
The move follows a nine-month investigation into a complaint by Aoife Moore, a political correspondent with the Irish Examiner.
Her complaint relates to tweets posted by Mr Harris and Ms Halley from pseudonymous Twitter accounts. Detectives have been investigating whether offences were committed under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997, which prohibits the harassment of another “by persistently following, watching, pestering, besetting or communicating with him or her”.
Mr Harris, who is terminally ill with cancer, confirmed to the Irish Independent that he and his wife voluntarily attended Pearse Street garda station for questioning “around two months ago”.
“We were invited to talk about the tweets. We went through the tweets and we heard no more,” he said.
The couple deny harassing the journalist and say they will defend separate civil proceedings in which they are each being sued for defamation by Ms Moore in the High Court.
Mr Harris has also issued a Circuit Court defamation claim against Ms Moore.
He was sacked by the Sunday Independent in May last year after he admitted being secretly involved in the running of a Twitter account under the name of “Barbara J Pym”.
The newspaper’s editor Alan English said material posted on the account frequently went far beyond fair and reasonable comment. He described Mr Harris’s involvement in the account as a “betrayal of trust”.
The Pym account and others associated with it were suspended by Twitter.
Ms Halley, also a former Sunday Independent writer, later admitted being behind one of the suspended accounts, which used the name “Dolly White”.
Ms Moore has previously said she had to go to counselling and the gardaí following tweets about her on the Pym account.
She said the account sent her sexualised messages about “whether Mary Lou McDonald turned me on, the size of my arse and called me a terrorist”.
In Circuit Court proceedings, Mr Harris has claimed he was defamed by these comments.
While he accepts the Pym account tweeted public messages about Ms Moore, he says he never sent her private or direct messages.
He also denies he ever communicated with Ms Moore in a “sexualised way”.
Mr Harris said he set up the anonymous Pym account to tweet about Northern Ireland politics and insisted it was “not a trolling account”. He said his column could not concentrate on Northern Ireland and he was “desperate to find a wider platform to reach out to unionists and fight Sinn Féin”.
Earlier this week Ms Halley said she was responsible for 34 tweets which were critical of Ms Moore’s coverage of Sinn Féin. She said she was “shocked” she was being sued by the journalist, that she considered the tweets to be “fair comment” and would be defending the action.