Garda Keith Harrison seeks to halt inquiry into alleged misconduct

Officer who gave evidence before Disclosures Tribunal has brough High Court action

Garda Keith Harrison and his partner Marisa Simms at Dublin Castle. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Garda Keith Harrison and his partner Marisa Simms at Dublin Castle. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

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Garda Keith Harrison, who gave evidence before the Disclosures Tribunal, has brought a High Court action aimed at stopping an internal Garda investigation into alleged breaches of discipline by him.

Garda Harrison denies the alleged misconduct and claims the investigation has been brought on behalf of the Garda Commissioner following certain adverse comments made Garda Harrison in an interim report by the tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton.

His lawyers argue the tribunal’s comments cannot have any legal implications, cannot be relied upon by the Garda Commissioner to discipline Garda Harrison and the investigation should be prohibited.

Last November the Disclosures Tribunal rejected allegations made by Garda Harrison and his partner Marissa Simms.

The couple’s allegations included a claim Ms Simms was compelled by gardaí­ to make a statement against him which led to a Tusla referral.

The Co Donegal based garda also alleged he was the victim of a five-year intimidation campaign after arresting a fellow officer for drink driving in Athlone in 2009.

In an interim report, Mr Justice Charleton said all of the allegations by Garda Harrison and Ms Simms examined by the tribunal were “entirely without any validity.”

The judge said he was exonerating persons with Tusla and An Garda Síochána who had been accused of wrongdoing.

Alleged breaches of discipline

Last July Garda Harrison was informed a Garda Superintendent has been appointed to conduct an internal investigation into alleged breaches of discipline by him. The misconduct alleged includes that that the adverse commentary by Mr Justice Charleton about Garda Harrison brought An Garda Siochana into disrepute and allegations made by Garda Harrison in a protected disclosure were found to be false and entirely misleading.

It is also alleged Garda Harrison’s motivation for the allegations was malicious and vexatious and his conduct in incidents outlined int evidence to the tribunal was unbecoming to a member of the Garda.

Garda Harrison denies the claims and his lawyers have called on the Commissioner to end what he claims is an unlawful investigation.

In his action against the Commissioner, Garda Harrison, represented by Mark Harty SC, instructed by Kilfeather & Co Solicitors, seeks declarations and orders including an order quashing the decision to appoint an officer to investigate alleged breaches of discipline by the Garda.

He claims the decision to appointed an investigating officer is unlawful and by seeking to place reliance on the findings of a tribunal of inquiry the Commissioner has acted outside his jurisdiction and in breach of natural and constitutional justice.

Counsel also said Garda Harrison contends, in seeking to discipline his client on the basis of what was contained in protective disclosures, the Commissioner is acting in breach of the 2014 Protective Disclosures Act.

Permission to bring the action was granted on Monday, on an ex parte basis, by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, who returned the matter to later this month.

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