Alan Shatter awarded cost of appeal in case over alleged data breach

Ex-minister argued against ruling that his claim Mick Wallace cautioned by gardaí breached Acts

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter. Photograph: Collins Courts.


The Data Protection Commissioner is considering whether to appeal a successful challenge by former minister for justice Alan Shatter of the commissioner’s finding that his disclosure of information concerning Independent TD Mick Wallace on live TV breached the Data Protection Acts.

In the High Court last month, Mr Justice Charles Meenan upheld Mr Shatter’s challenge.

When the case was briefly mentioned before the judge on Wednesday, he granted Eileen Barrington SC, for Mr Shatter, her side’s costs of the case against the DPC.

Having been told by Paul Anthony McDermott SC, for the commissioner, they were still considering whether to appeal, the judge put a stay on his orders pending a decision on that.

Mr Shatter went to the High Court over the Circuit Civil Court’s dismissal of his challenge to then commissioner Billy Hawkes’ May 2014 decision that his disclosure breached his statutory duties under the Data Protection Acts.

He denied his reference during an RTÉ Prime Time interview in May 2013 to Mr Wallace allegedly being cautioned by gardaí for using a mobile phone while driving amounted to a use and disclosure of Mr Wallace’s personal data.

Civil case

Mr Wallace complained to the commissioner after the broadcast and separate civil proceedings against the Minster for Justice, and against Mr Shatter personally, over the matter have yet to be heard.

Last month, Mr Justice Meenan allowed the appeal for reasons including findings that the information at issue - contained in an internal Garda email shown to the DPC but not provided to Mr Shatter - was not manual or automated “data”, and Mr Shatter was not a “data controller” or “joint data controller”, within the meaning of the Acts.

Mr Shatter had argued he never had, or saw, any written record of the information which was communicated to him during a conversation with then Garda Commissioner Martin Callanan and contended what he had said did not amount to “processing” it.

The judge also upheld Mr Shatter’s claims the commissioner prejudged the issue as to whether the information was personal data of Mr Wallace’s and acted in breach of Mr Shatter’s right to fair procedures in the manner in which he reached his May 2014 decision.