An investigation ordered by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has been unable to establish the source of a leak to a newspaper that reported the watchdog suspected a it was under surveillance.
The GSOC has been mired in controversy since the Sunday Times reported in February that the commission suspected its premises were under surveillance and had engaged a British counter-intelligence firm to investigate.
A report by retired High Court judge Mr Justice John Cooke, published in June, found no evidence bugging had taken place at the GSOC offices last year. However, it noted that, given the sophistication of modern surveillance equipment, it could not rule the bugging possibility out.
Separately, the GSOC asked barrister Mark Connaughton SC to carry out a "fact-finding investigation" to ascertain the source of the leak to Sunday Times journalist John Mooney.
A spokeswoman for the GSOC said it has received Mr Connaughton’s report into the matter but he had been “unable to establish individual responsibility for any disclosure, either on the part of an employee of the GSOC or any other party”.
The report concluded that it was “difficult to identify” what additional information could usefully advance matters, short of obtaining the co-operation of the journalist in question, who declined the invitation. “No further action is intended,” it added.
The spokeswoman said Mr Connaughton had examined the information that appeared in the public domain and compared it with all possible source documents in order to establish what specific documents and data seemed to have been available to Mooney and what documents were not. He also examined who - internally and externally- may have had access to the documents containing information gleaned by the journalist.
Mr Connaughton also interviewed a number of current and previous GSOC staff. All were co-operative, he said. He also had access to e-mail correspondence, photocopier logs, CCTV recordings, documentation pertaining to investigations, internal policies and procedures, and technical analysis of any mobile phones requested.
The spokeswoman said the GSOC had taken the matter “very seriously” and has put in place several measures internally to enhance the security of information relating to its affairs. These include policy, practice and technical measures.
The GSOC has forwarded a copy of Mr Connaughton’s report to Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald. It does not intend to publish the report because it contains “personal data which is impossible to redact effectively”.