Cooke Report: The main points
Report finds evidence does not support claims of GSOC bugging
The Government report into the alleged bugging of the offices of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) by retired judge John Cooke has found that there is no evidence that surveillance took place.
- It is “clear” the evidence does not support the proposition actual surveillance of the kind asserted in The Sunday Times article took place and “much less” that it was carried out by members of the Garda.
- It is “impossible” to categorically rule out all possibility of covert surveillance in the three threats identified by Verrimus.
- The abnormal behaviour of a touch panel remote control which enables connections to be made between projector, microphones, laptops and the display screen, appears now to “warrant reconsideration” because it was not microphone enabled and its original default password was publicly available and had not been changed.
- The ‘ring-back’ reaction to the alert test of the Polycom unit “remains unexplained” as a technical or scientific anomaly. There is no evidence the ring-back reaction was necessarily attributable to an offence or misbehaviour on the part of a member of the Garda.
- It is “difficult to avoid the impression” concerns generated were “heavily influenced by the atmosphere of frustration and tension that had arisen” in relations between GSOC personnel and the senior ranks of the Garda. This led to “the raising of suspicions”.
- Investigating officers and members of GSOC “acted in good faith” in taking the steps in question once presented with the surveillance report. It was “unfortunate” further advice from Verrimus or a second opinion was not sought.
- In terms of suspicions of physical surveillance by covert individuals, it “seems highly likely” such surveillance “if that is what it was” was directed at the activities of Verrimus operatives rather than at GSOC personnel.
- There is “no evidence” which links any such physical surveillance to any one or to all of the three ‘threats’ thought to have been detected.
- It is “no doubt possible” further tests and investigations might be conducted with a view to finding explanations for the “anomalies” but it “may be questionable” whether such further investigations would be justified.
- The security sweep carried out by Verrimus identified a series of vulnerabilities in the GSOC offices, equipment and technologies designed to ensure confidentiality, which should be “addressed and rectified”.
- Consideration should be given to “clarifying the precise scope” of the competence to be accorded to GSOC to conduct investigations of its own initiative.
- Cooke queries whether GSOC’s remit should be confined to the investigation of matters which are attributable only to the commission of offences by members of the Garda, or “should it be considered desirable as a matter of legislative policy that the power be exercisable in circumstances where the offence is attributable to third parties outside the force”.
- If there is to be new legislation redefining the roles of and relationships between the Commissioner, the Minister and GSOC in the context of introducing the new police authority, it “may be desirable to consider simplifying the somewhat complex provisions governing the making, admissibility and investigation of complaints”.