Keith Harrison faces prospect of disciplinary action

Garda says he is disappointed but not surprised at Charleton judgment

Garda Keith Harrison and  Marisa Simms: his solicitor said Garda Harrison  would continue suing the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Garda Keith Harrison and Marisa Simms: his solicitor said Garda Harrison would continue suing the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

 

Keith Harrison, the Garda whistleblower excoriated in the Disclosures Tribunal’s second interim report, is facing the prospect of disciplinary action being taken against him by An Garda Síochána.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton found allegations made by Garda Harrison and his partner, Marisa Simms, were “entirely without any validity”.

The judge concluded: “They have claimed to be the victims of a malicious procession of events. This is not so.”

A Garda statement released on Friday said management would consider Mr Justice Charleton’s recommendations regarding disciplinary procedures within the force.

In his report, Mr Justice Charleton itemised eight separate instances where Garda Harrison challenged the orders of his superiors or behaved in a way the judge thought was inappropriate.

“This is unacceptable,” Mr Justice Charleton wrote. “In any properly functioning police force, there has to be a command structure which is unequivocally responded to.”

Response

In the force’s first formal response to the interim report, An Garda Síochána said it welcomed Mr Justice Charleton’s findings, particularly “that Garda members individually in Donegal and the organisation as a whole acted correctly in dealing with the issues under examination in the module examined”.

The statement continued: “Mr Justice Charleton also found that there was ‘no breakdown in the Garda command structure’ and his finding of the critical importance of An Garda Síochána’s command structure in its ability to operate effectively is also welcomed.

“An Garda Síochána will now consider Mr Justice’s Charleton’s recommendations in relation to disciplinary procedures.”

Garda Harrison, meanwhile, said he was disappointed but not surprised at Mr Justice Charleton’s judgment on him. Despite this, he would continue suing the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General, his solicitor said in a statement.

“Garda Harrison is disappointed with the conclusions of the tribunal, these conclusions were anticipated from the outset given the views adopted in the opening statement and come as no surprise to him,” the statement said.

“In light of his dealings with and attendance at the tribunal, where one of the issues was the refusal of pursue parties who withheld documents, he did not anticipate the tribunal would support his view regarding the actions of An Garda Síochána.”

Confirming that Garda Harrison’s legal action against the Garda Commissioner and State would continue, the statement continued: “He is confident that upon his calling all relevant witnesses and receiving full discovery of all relevant documentation, the High Court will reach different conclusions in respect of many matters contained in the report of the Tribunal.”

Public concerns

Fianna Fáil said it was important any findings that disprove allegations of wrongdoing against the Garda were disclosed to assuage concerns the public had about conduct in the force.

The party’s justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, said while it it was important all allegations are investigated, the public must be reassured if they are found to be false.

Mr O’Callaghan also commended Mr Justice Charleton for “the prompt and unambiguous” report he delivered.

“Everyone accepts that it is in the public interest for wrongdoing in the gardaí and social services to be disclosed. Similarly, where allegations of wrongdoing are made and there is no basis to those allegations, it is also in the public interest that those findings are disclosed.

“It is important that the tribunal has now assuaged any public concern that existed about Garda Harrison’s allegations.”