Wednesday 12 December 2018

Hospice CCTV that showed 'unauthorised breaks' sparks row over data

Stock photo
Stock photo

Ray Managh

CCTV images used in a civil disciplinary procedure while "masquerading as a criminal investigation" had breached an employee's rights under the Data Protection Acts, a court has heard.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane, outlining proceedings before her in the Circuit Civil Court, said gardaí had advised Our Lady's Hospice and Care Services, Harold's Cross, Dublin, to view CCTV images to help track down the author of "disturbing graffiti" on the wall of a workers' break room.

The court heard that the words "Kill all whites - Isis is my life" had been scratched on the wall and gardaí had been called in. They advised the hospice to view CCTV coverage in connection with a criminal investigation.

It was during this viewing the hospice authorities had found that a number of its staff were taking unauthorised breaks. This led to disciplinary proceedings against craftsman's mate Cormac Doolin - who is in no manner connected with the writing of the wall graffiti concerned - with regard to unauthorised breaks.

Eddie Walsh BL, for Mr Doolin, of Leighlin Road, Crumlin, Dublin 12, told the court that it was through the use of CCTV gleaned for a different purpose, a criminal investigation, that the hospice had found the unauthorised breaks being taken by staff.

Mr Walsh said use of this data arising from a criminal investigation breached Mr Doolin's data protection rights.

He said Mr Doolin was appealing a decision of the Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon, who had held in July last that the hospice had not acted in violation of the Data Protection Acts.

Ms Dixon said Our Lady's Hospice and Care Services had a lawful basis under a "legitimate interest provision" in the acts for the very limited processing of his personal data which had taken place.

Mr Doolin had alleged that his employer's use of his data for reasons unrelated to the purpose for which it had been originally processed was a violation of his rights.

Mr Walsh, who told Judge Linnane that Mr Doolin had admitted having taken unauthorised breaks, said the hospice used data arising from an inquiry "masquerading as a criminal investigation" to carry out a disciplinary investigation against him.

David Fennelly, counsel for the commissioner, said that due to the very late provision of a replying affidavit by Mr Doolin, the commissioner had been taken totally by surprise by the application to amend before the court and he would be opposing any amendment.

Mr Doolin's application for leave to amend the terms of his appeal was adjourned until January.

Irish Independent

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