Tribunal hears statement against whistleblower withdrawn

Partner of Keith Harrison made statement saying he was ‘obsessive’ and ‘irrational’

Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison with his partner Marissa Simms at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle, which is chaired by Judge Peter Charleton. Photograph:  Stephen Collins/Collins Photo

Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison with his partner Marissa Simms at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle, which is chaired by Judge Peter Charleton. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photo

 

The Charleton tribunal has heard details of how a statement of complaint against a Garda whistleblower was withdrawn by his partner in early 2014.

Marissa Simms made the statement on January 11th, 2014, withdrawing an earlier complaint which detailed allegations of “obsessive” and “irrational” behaviour by her partner, Garda Keith Harrison.

The tribunal is looking into whether garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe was the target of a smear campaign on the direction of senior Garda management. The Garda Harrison allegation is that there were inappropriate contacts between Tusla and the Garda in relation to matters to do with Garda Harrison and his partner, Marisa Simms. He has said these mirrored in some regards what allegedly happened with Sgt McCabe.

Inspector Goretti Sheridan told the tribunal yesterday (FRI) she was contacted on November 27th, 2013 by Ms Simms about withdrawing her statement, which she originally made at Letterkenny Garda station on October 6th, 2013.

Earlier the same month, Insp Sheridan had been informed the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) would not be following up on the statement after Ms Simms had told them she did not wish to make a complaint.

The inspector said Ms Simms made no complaint about how she had been treated when making her statement.

In a statement in January 2014, Ms Simms said: “I want to say that everything I told them on October 6th, 2013 and that recorded in the statement is true.”

“These things did happen and I was honest in what I told them at the time,” the statement said. “Today, January 11th, I wish to inform you that I no longer want to pursue a complaint about Keith Harrison. I wish to withdraw the statement I made on October 6th.”

Insp Sheridan said it was not true she had a pre-prepared statement for Ms Simms.

The inspector also said it was “totally incorrect” that she told Ms Simms to “think of her children” when told that Ms Simms wanted to withdraw her statement.

“Marisa is a lovely girl and I have no doubt she is a good mother so I have no concern of her as a mother,” Insp Sheridan said.

In an email to Chief Supt Terry McGinn and other officers in 2014, Insp Sheridan said that Ms Simms and Garda Harrison had got back together at Christmas and were “giving it another go”.

Insp Sheridan told the tribunal that a conference in October 2013 had considered what to do in relation to the complaint received from Ms Simms.

There was a debate about referring the statement to GSOC, and whether this would be done under Section 85 or Section 102 of the Garda Síochána Act.

The tribunal resumes next week.