Editor’s action against gardaí over phone data ‘not suitable’ for video hearing

Provincial newspaper editor’s phone was seized as part of repossessed house investigation

Emmett Corcoran, editor of the Democrat, based in Strokestown, Co Roscommon, got an injunction preventing the Garda Commissioner from going through data on his phone. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Emmett Corcoran, editor of the Democrat, based in Strokestown, Co Roscommon, got an injunction preventing the Garda Commissioner from going through data on his phone. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

A provincial newspaper editor’s legal action against gardaí and the State over the seizure of his mobile phone is not suitable for remote video hearing, the High Court was told.

Just over a year ago, Emmett Corcoran, editor of the Democrat, based in Strokestown, Co Roscommon, got an injunction preventing the Garda Commissioner from going through data on his phone which was seized as part of an investigation into incidents at a repossessed house in Strokestown in December, 2018.

Gardaí said Mr Corcoran was one of the first people to arrive at the scene of the incident when a number of vehicles were set on fire.

Mr Corcoran, who shot video before the fire brigade arrived, refused to identify his sources.

Mr Corcoran and his publishing company Oncor Ventures got leave from the court last year for a judicial review over a warrant granted by District Judge James Faughnan to search his home in Strokestown and that of his newspaper offices in the town.

Mr Corcoran said he felt forced to hand over his phone when gardaí told him they would search his home, office and his grandparents’ home if he did not.

He also sought orders that the phone be returned and a prohibition on anyone attempting to access information on it pending determination of the High Court proceedings.

The case had been due for hearing this week but was before the court on Thursday via videolink when Frank Callanan, for the gardaí and the State, asked that a date be provided for a physical rather than a remote hearing.

Doing it by video would be “impossibly cumbersome”, counsel said. Morgan Shelley BL, for Mr Corcoran, agreed.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan adjourned the matter to July for hearing in which the parties would attend court.