‘Questions remain’ over possible bugging - GSOC

Judge says evidence does ‘not support’ the proposition that surveillance had occurred

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission said its own inquiries meant it was “satisfied that our databases were not compromised” and that “there was no evidence of Garda misconduct.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission said its own inquiries meant it was “satisfied that our databases were not compromised” and that “there was no evidence of Garda misconduct.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 18:24

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) says “question marks still remain” over allegations that its offices were bugged, despite a report from retired High Court judge John Cooke finding no evidence to support concerns actual surveillance took place.

Responding to the findings of the report, GSOC chairman Simon O’Brien said his office acted properly, professionally and proportionately after it launched a public interest inquiry into concerns of bugging.

“There is still an outstanding anomaly and in the words of the judge, as he says in these rather febrile areas, it’s difficult to know whether that could be in relation to unlawful intrusion,” he said.

“So, question marks still remain.”

Mr O’ Brien said an investigation was opened by GSOC because there were credible threats that indicated the office could be under surveillance.

“We closed the investigation because we found no definitive evidence,” he said.

“I rather regret the minister would have found this out in the newspaper. Events overtook us.”

Mr O’ Brien told RTÉ radio this morning he was not planning to step down from the organisation.

“I don’t think my position is untenable at all,” he said.

GSOC has said Mr Justice Cooke’s finding that evidence does not support the proposition that surveillance took place “mirrors” the findings from its own inquires.

Former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter welcomed the Cooke report saying the judge had applied fair procedures in the conduct of his inquiry.

In a statement this evening, Mr Shatter said he had dealt with the alleged surveillance “ in a straightforward, truthful and comprehensive way” as Minister for Justice.

“I reported to the House GSOC’s own conclusions that ‘no definitive evidence of unauthorised technical or electronic surveillance was uncovered’ with regard to their offices. I also recounted that there was no identified connection between any member of An Garda Síochana and any of these matters, GSOC having in their own press release stated that ‘there was no evidence of Garda misconduct’”.

The Inquiry into Reports of Unlawful Surveillance of Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission focused on three alleged threats to GSOC.

Mr Justice Cooke found as “not convincing” the accounts that an wireless AV remote control device for audio and video equipment in GSOC was connecting and transferring data to an external Bitbuzz hotspot in a nearby café.

The judge also found that an alleged fake UK 3G network, which was detected on an iPhone as operating in the vicinity of GSOC’s offices, was “highly likely” to have been caused by the testing of a new 4G installation by a mobile provider.