Rumour mill in Garda HQ about Maurice McCabe hit ‘full flight’
False abuse claim stayed in whistleblower’s file until tribunal began, senior officer says
Det Supt Frank Walsh at The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.
A senior garda officer has told the Disclosures Tribunal that while he worked in Garda headquarters there were rumours circulating about whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Detective Superintendent Frank Walsh worked as private secretary to the commissioner until last year, dealing with confidential reporting and protected disclosures.
“There were rumours circulating about Garda McCabe,” Det Supt Walsh said. “The rumour machine was in full flight around that time.”
Det Supt Walsh said a correspondence file from Sgt McCabe, who first wrote to the commissioner about issues with Garda management, eventually grew to about 3,500 pages, although some of this was duplication.
A summary of Sgt McCabe’s career compiled by the human resources department was also part of the file.
In May 2014, a false allegation of sexual assault was wrongly added to the file. When the error came to light a few weeks later, it was not notified to Garda headquarters.
Det Supt Walsh said the incorrect allegation was still of Sgt McCabe’s correspondence file when he left the commissioner’s office last year, and he understood it remained there until the tribunal began in earlier this year.
Breffni Gordon BL, barrister for Sgt McCabe, said it was “remarkable and bizarre” that there seemed to have been no discussions between senior officers after the false allegations about Sgt McCabe were added to the correspondence file.
Det Supt Walsh said he could not say if there were or were not any discussions with the Commissioner, only that none had taken place in his presence.
Earlier, retired assistant commissioner Kieran Kenny told the tribunal that he had not discussed the allegations against Sgt McCabe with the commissioner.
The tribunal heard that he met the commissioner and Sgt McCabe on August 7th, 2014, to address “workplace issues” the whistleblower was experiencing.
The tribunal also heard a forensic scientist testify that a document from an unrelated case, of ‘Ms Y’, had been used as a template to create the ‘Ms D’ notification.
Mark McConnell, of Northern Ireland Forensic Service, carried out an examination of metadata in the electronic documents containing the ‘Ms D’ and ‘Ms Y’ allegations. Metadata in both files showed the time that the document was last printed was the same, on June 5th, 2013.
Mr McConnell said the Y and D documents both showed the same “last printed” date but the D document had a ‘content created’ date of August 9th.
Mr Marrinan asked if this indicates to the witness that the D document was from a copy of the Y document. This showed the ‘Ms Y’ document was used as a template to create the ‘Ms D’ document, Mr McConnell said.
“That last printed time was carried across from the document from which it was copied,” he said. Mr McConnell said the documents “did not appear to have been interfered with anywhere.”
The tribunal continues.