Tuesday 20 November 2018

'No credible evidence' to suggest O'Sullivan had any 'hand, act or part' in smearing of sergeant

Report: Judge Peter Charleton at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Collins Photos
Report: Judge Peter Charleton at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Collins Photos
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The Disclosures Tribunal has found there was "no credible evidence" that former Garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan had any part in a campaign to denigrate Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

The tribunal has also accepted the evidence of Ms O'Sullivan's legal team that she never suggested that Sgt McCabe's integrity be challenged at the O'Higgins Commission.

Former Garda press officer Superintendent Dave Taylor had alleged he was instructed by former commissioner Martin Callinan to negatively brief members of the media about the whistleblower in 2013 and 2014.

He also claimed this was done with the knowledge of Ms O'Sullivan, who was then deputy commissioner.

However, in his report, tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton found there was no credible evidence that Ms O'Sullivan played any hand, act or part in any campaign conducted by Mr Callinan and Supt Taylor.

"All of the evidence is to the contrary, in fact," he said.

Also probed by the tribunal was whether the false allegations of sexual abuse or any other unjustified grounds were inappropriately relied upon by the then commissioner O'Sullivan to discredit Sgt McCabe at the O'Higgins Commission in 2015.

This was a behind-closed-doors inquiry which examined concerns raised by Sgt McCabe about policing in the Cavan/Monaghan district.

The report found that no "false allegations of sexual abuse" were deployed at the commission. Ms O'Sullivan never gave such an instruction, the judge said.

Mr Justice Charleton also accepted the evidence of Ms O'Sullivan's legal team that she never suggested that Sgt McCabe's integrity be challenged.

The judge also accepted most of Ms O'Sullivan's evidence in relation to the matter.

The report said that during the commission, counsel for An Garda Síochána, Colm Smyth SC, incorrectly confirmed his instructions included challenging Sgt McCabe's integrity. He later told the tribunal Ms O'Sullivan never used the word "integrity" in her instructions to him.

The tribunal report said a row erupted at the commission over this.

Mr Justice Charleton said the balance of the evidence was that Ms O'Sullivan was urgently requested to engage with counsel over the weekend after the row but that, for whatever unexplained reason, she was not prepared to do so.

"The tribunal cannot accept her evidence in that regard," the report said.

It said Ms O'Sullivan's evidence was that her task was to consider the interests of all gardaí before the O'Higgins Commission, and it was her responsibility to have the evidence of Sgt McCabe scrutinised.

"That was not an improper position. The tribunal accepts that evidence," the judge said.

Irish Independent

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