Friday 19 January 2018

Garda whistleblower refuses to accept findings of tribunal

Garda Keith Harrison. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney
Garda Keith Harrison. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Garda Keith Harrison is refusing to accept the findings of the Disclosures Tribunal and is planning to press ahead with a personal injuries action against the Garda Commissioner.

In an interim report on Thursday, the tribunal rejected allegations by Gda Harrison and his partner Marisa Simms that gardaí had coerced her to make a false complaint against him, and directed Tusla to visit their family home.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton dismissed their allegations in emphatic terms, describing some parts of their story as "nonsense".

He said all of the claims the tribunal examined were "entirely without any validity" and exonerated gardaí and Tusla officials against whom allegations were made.

However, a statement issued by solicitor Trevor Collins said Gda Harrison was disappointed by the conclusions and criticised the workings of the tribunal. The statement claimed the tribunal had refused "to pursue parties who withheld documents".

It also said a civil action taken by Gda Harrison against the Garda Commissioner, Justice Minister, the State and the Attorney General would proceed.

The High Court case he has taken deals with a wider range of allegations than those examined by the tribunal.

The tribunal's terms of reference were confined to examining contacts between gardaí and Tusla.

It also examined whether there was a pattern of files being created in Tusla containing allegations of misconduct against gardaí who had made allegations of wrongdoing against colleagues.

A much wider conspiracy is alleged by Gda Harrison in his court proceedings, which were issued in 2015.

In the civil action he claims he was the victim of a five-year campaign of intimidation after arresting a colleague for drink driving in Athlone in 2009. As part of this, he claims to have been placed under surveillance.

The claims are denied by the Garda Commissioner and the other defendants in the case.

The statement said Gda Harrison was confident the High Court would reach different conclusions to the tribunal after hearing from all relevant witnesses and following the full disclosure of documents.

The case is currently bogged down in a dispute over discovery. The Garda Commissioner has been given until December 18 to comply with orders to file an affidavit of discovery.

Although he is persisting with the case, the Garda's credibility has been significantly damaged by the tribunal's findings.

Alan Kelly, the Labour TD who previously championed Gda Harrison's cause, said on Thursday night he accepted the findings of the tribunal. He did not return a call seeking further comment yesterday.

In a statement, An Garda Síochána welcomed the tribunal's findings.

Irish Independent

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