Friday, September 15, 2006

Gardaí disclosing confidential information to media

This RTÉ News report is worrying, and reinforces the DRI complaint earlier this year about the leaking of mobile phone records by gardaí.:
"Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy is this afternoon to appoint a senior officer to investigate the circumstances surrounding the release of video footage to RTÉ News.

The footage, broadcast yesterday, features two men convicted of dangerous driving, videoing themselves driving at high speed on the N4, near Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

District Court judge John Neilan this morning requested the commissioner to commence an internal investigation.

Judge Neilan said his relationship with the force was deeply strained as a result of events this week.

Judge Neilan said he was appalled by the conduct of the garda officers in the case.

He said the case had first come before him in June and he was satisfied beyond any shadow of a doubt that one of the prosecuting officers had primed the media in respect of the case.

He said that since the tape from the camcorder found in one of the cars was not available to the court yesterday, the only evidence that was available was that as recounted by the Inspector at Mullingar District Court yesterday.

Judge Neilan also said that it was his belief that the evidence of the arresting officers was tainted and embellished by what they saw on the camcorder.

Charges withdrawn

He said that the prosecution had decided without indicating to the court or the media, which apparently had the inside track on the case, that it was withdrawing two of the charges.

Two of the charges related to the material which was used and retained on the camcorder.

The judge said the DPP did not give any reason to the court for not proceeding with those particular charges.

He said that the conduct of members of An Garda Síochána in discussing evidence and possibly releasing material which was intended to be used in the case yesterday was nothing short of scandalous.

Judge Neilan said that the material seized by gardaí was material which was under the authority of his court.

He warned members of the public to be cautious about what he called the hype surrounding this case, and he said that every member of the public should be aware that certain members of the gardaí are priming the media well in advance of any case being dealt with in accordance with the law.

Judge Neilan also said that certain members of the gardaí believe they have 'a God given right to undermine the cases of the DPP and generate as much hype and hysteria as they can'."

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