Interview drivers with terminated points, urges Wilson

Inquiry must speak to motorists who benefited from alleged abuse, says whistleblower

Garda whistleblower John Wilson pictured outside Leinster House last week. “The drivers who benefitted from having multiple terminations of lawfully issued fixed charge penalty notices will have to be interviewed,” he said today.  Photograph: Collins Photos

Garda whistleblower John Wilson pictured outside Leinster House last week. “The drivers who benefitted from having multiple terminations of lawfully issued fixed charge penalty notices will have to be interviewed,” he said today. Photograph: Collins Photos

 

Garda whistleblower John Wilson has said the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) inquiry into the termination of penalty points must interview motorists who benefitted from the alleged abuses.

The retired garda, a Cavan-based father of three, said the Gsoc inquiry also needed to be based on the complaints watchdog having free and full access to the Garda’s Pulse computerised database on which any details of points terminations are stored.

He added Gsoc’s involvement should not preclude the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) from continuing to investigate the issue or an independent inquiry being established, which he believed should be headed by a High Court judge or senior counsel.

“The level of co-operation given to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in previous inquiries has been less than full co-operation,” he said.

“This investigation will only work if Gsoc are given full unrestricted access to the Garda Síochána Pulse system. When I say full access, I don’t mean to be making inquiries with guards standing over their shoulders; I mean full unrestricted access to the Pulse system.”

Under current procedures, Gsoc has access to Pulse under the supervision of, and via, serving members of the force.

It lobbied last year to be granted unfettered access to enable it to carry out faster and more comprehensive investigations into complaints against Garda members. Minster for Justice Alan Shatter refused that request.

“If this is to be a thorough investigation, all of the allegations we have made will need to be examined,” Mr Wilson said of the matters he had raised with fellow whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

“The drivers who benefitted from having multiple terminations of lawfully issued fixed charge penalty notices will have to be interviewed. The senior Garda members who terminated these penalty points will have to be interviewed - whether still serving or whether they are retired.”

He insisted he was not opposed to Garda discretion being exercised and had only raised what he believed were unreasonable cases, where drivers had points terminated on tenuous grounds or on no grounds.

“It was never about discretion; discretion has been used to muddy the waters in the last year or so - nobody used more discretion throughout [their] career than I did.”

He believed if the matter was fully investigated the truth of the “scandal” would come out. He said the Comptroller & Auditor General had found one in five cases of penalty points had been terminated.

In a report by the C&AG last September, the termination of points was identified as one in a series of factors that led to detected speeding offences failing to result in penalty points.

Other problems were identified with the serving of summonses, establishing who was driving company cars caught speeding, or delays in gardaí processing paperwork related to the offences, which then became statute-barred.

“Myself and Sgt McCabe acted lawfully at all times in relation to this; this is more than just flaws in the system,” Mr Wilson told the Today with Sean O’Rourke show on RTÉ Radio 1.

He believed the PAC should be permitted to continue its work and hear the evidence of Sgt McCabe on Thursday as initially planned.

“The Public Accounts Committee - their sole remit is to deal with public finances. I would suggest that the loss of many millions of euro in revenue to the State by the terminations of these tickets is a matter of public concern.”

PAC chairman John McGuinness and his colleagues on the committee “have been doing a fantastic job” on the penalty points controversy.

He said the PAC was specifically examining the loss of revenue rather than trying to improve criminal wrongdoing.