Gardaí are investigating a claim by the Gript news website it received confidential information from within the Garda force.
The information, which was inaccurate, led to the publication of a report on the Gript website that identified the wrong man as the suspect for a stabbing on Parnell Square which sparked serious rioting in Dublin city centre later on Thursday.
The stabbing left a five-year-old girl and a school worker fighting for their lives. Two other children were hospitalised but have since been released
Gript claims it had obtained information about the man it wrongly nominated as the suspect from a Garda source and “senior Justice source”. The claim is now under investigation because it is a crime to leak information from inside the Garda if that leak is deemed to have caused “harm”.
Such investigations into alleged leaks to the media routinely take place. “An Garda Síochána has appointed a Chief Superintendent to examine the public allegation made by Gript.ie in relation to this matter,” the Garda said in reply to queries.
Meanwhile, gardaí have launched two security operations to safeguard the man wrongly accused of being the stabbing suspect and the business where it was claimed he worked. The security operations were put in place around the innocent man and the business after risk assessments by gardaí.
The measures followed the publication of the Gript story on Wednesday and subsequent social media posts by members of the public. In those posts, the man was named, his photograph was shared and a business where it was claimed he worked was also named.
In reply to queries, Garda Headquarters confirmed the second security operation was in place, saying it aimed to ensure the safety of the business. It said the operations began following “highly inaccurate social media posts over the last 24 hours resulting from a highly inaccurate article on an online news site”.
Gript claimed it knew the name of the man who stabbed the children and a school worker. Using that name, it gathered other facts for a story, without realising it was researching the wrong man.
The article referred to court records and purported to outline the history of the unnamed suspect’s dealing with the State in relation to asylum. After the article was published, a number of people on social media went on to publish what they said was the man’s name and place of work.
Gript has since issued a statement confirming it was contacted on Thursday morning by the Garda and told its story was about the wrong man. Gript then removed the story from its website and also removed related social media posts promoting the story.
The man Gript wrote about is originally from Algeria but has been living legally in the Republic for many years. The suspect for the stabbing is also a long-term resident in Ireland originally from Algeria. However, all of the other details published in the Gript story relate to the innocent man, who has no connection to the events of last week on Parnell Square.
Gript said it checked details with an anonymous Garda source and another unnamed “senior Justice official”. However, it did not put an official query to Garda Headquarters.
Gript added it was now “investigating” its own error, saying it had not ruled out the possibility it had been deliberately misled, in which case “our obligation to protect the anonymity of those sources will be considered forfeit”.
However, Gript’s editor, John McGuirk, also said the reporting was “sourced from trusted individuals who have never provided Gript Media with false or misleading information before – indeed they have an excellent track record”. Neither Gript nor Mr McGuirk have furnished any evidence the sources deliberately misled them.
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