Garda seeks to halt inquiry over passing information to media

Former Garda Press Office chief, Supt David Taylor, investigated over alleged breaches

Supt David Taylor, who was in charge of the Garda Press Office between July 2012 and June 2014, is being investigated concerning alleged breaches of Section 62 of the Garda Síochána Act, the 1998 Data Protection Act and Garda discipline. File photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Supt David Taylor, who was in charge of the Garda Press Office between July 2012 and June 2014, is being investigated concerning alleged breaches of Section 62 of the Garda Síochána Act, the 1998 Data Protection Act and Garda discipline. File photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

A senior garda being investigated over highly sensitive information being passed to the media is seeking permission to bring a High Court challenge aimed at halting the inquiry.

Supt David Taylor, who was in charge of the Garda Press Office between July 2012 and June 2014, is being investigated concerning alleged breaches of Section 62 of the Garda Síochána Act, the 1998 Data Protection Act and Garda discipline.

The charges arise from how sensitive information was passed to the media by An Garda Síochána on October 21st, 2013, concerning a childcare matter in south County Dublin.

That information was the subject of media reports, and its acquisition by the media became the subject of criminal and internal disciplinary investigations.

When Supt Taylor’s application for leave to bring the judicial review proceedings against the Garda Commissioner and DPP came before Mr Justice Seamus Noonan on Monday, he directed it should be heard on notice to the other side and adjourned it for two weeks.

Breffni Gordon BL, for Supt Taylor, told the judge his client fears some sort of “skullduggery” in relation to the investigation.

Supt Taylor is concerned evidence is being interfered with, information concerning the investigation has been leaked to the media, and that the inquiry has been “tainted beyond redemption”, lacks credibility and public confidence and should be prohibited.

Supt Taylor also wants injunctions halting the investigation until the Commissioner provides a report accounting for its conduct to date and addressing his concerns about the integrity and probity of evidence gathered by investigators.

Supt Taylor, who was transferred to the Traffic Division in 2014, claims the manner in which the investigation has been carried out to date amounts to interference with evidence and the administration of justice.

Mr Gordon said, following the leak to the media concerning the childcare matter, his client was initially told he was not the subject of an investigation, but was later told he was subject of the investigation conducted by a team headed by senior gardaí.

His client’s concerns arose from matters including a phone call he received from a journalist in March 2015 asserting both the journalist and Supt Taylor were to be arrested in connection with the leak.

When Supt Taylor challenged the senior garda conducting the investigation about that, he was told he was “a person of interest” to the investigation team and nobody involved in the inquiry had made any disclosures to the media.

On May 28th, 2015, a newspaper reported a garda was expected to be arrested over the leaking of information concerning a childcare case, and this leak was most likely provided by somebody closely connected to the investigation, counsel said.

His client was arrested at a Dublin Garda station that same day and suspended from duty. News vehicles started to gather outside the Garda station where the arrest took place, counsel said.

Newspaper reports also showed the source is closely connected to the investigation team.

One of the “most bizarre” aspects of the investigation concerns one of three phones taken from Supt Taylor by investigators, counsel said.

All three phones supplied to Supt Taylor by his employer were tagged or tied to the telephone number of the SIM card inserted, counsel said.

Around November 14th last, one of the phones and the SIM card “went live” and attempted to enter a private closed chat group on the Viber platform whose members included a neighbour of Supt Taylor, counsel said. 

The use of the phone to try to access the chat group shows evidence has been interfered with or has become insecure to the degree it has been accessed by third parties, he added.