Saturday, May 25, 2013

Will Irish courts take phone hacking seriously?

There's a remarkable story in today's Irish Independent about a woman whose criminal charges were struck out - without even a conviction - despite having been found guilty of listening to her former supervisor's voicemails. From the article:
A CIVIL servant who was found guilty of spying on her former supervisor by hacking into her mobile phone's voicemail messages has escaped punishment.

Dublin City Council employee Severine Doyle (39) had pleaded not guilty to 11 charges under the Postal and Telecommunication Act. However, following a hearing last June, she was found guilty of intercepting voice messages on a phone used by Teresa Conlon, Dublin City Council's head of housing allocation.

Dublin District Court heard that Ms Conlon's voicemail messages had been intercepted over a five-week period, from January 8 until February 11, 2010.

Doyle's sentencing had been adjourned until yesterday. Judge Eamon O'Brien told defence solicitor Declan Fahy: "I will strike it out with liberty to re-enter. I am giving her a chance, the ball is in her court."

During the trial on June 28 last year, Ms Conlon told the judge she found out that some city councillors had said they had listened to tapes of messages left on her phone.
This is an unusual outcome. The offences established carry a possible sentence of 5 years if prosecuted on indictment or 12 months otherwise. There were multiple incidents of phone hacking over an extended period. There was no guilty plea. The offences were aggravated by dissemination of the recorded material to councillors. Despite all this, the case was struck out. This may not have been a case for a custodial sentence, but I see no reason why a conviction shouldn't have been registered to mark the gravity of the offence. While there may be more to the matter than emerges from the media coverage, on the face of it this is a case where the court has failed to give adequate weight to the right to privacy in communications.


  1. Anonymous27 May, 2013

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  2. Anonymous03 June, 2013

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  3. What about Vodafone providing access to GHCQ to all calls going though their network ? Surely that should result in them losing their operating license in Ireland? Same for BT etc.

    Does the operating license have any clause dealing with this?

    Proof :