The Penalty Points Whistleblower

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Garda whistleblower John Wilson, above, spoke to Pat Kenny this morning about the imminent garda report into the quashing of penalty points.

Pat Kenny: “The reason that Clare Daly and Co mentioned all of this in the Dáil chamber was because they got the information from whistleblowers. I’m joined by one of the whistleblowers, John Wilson, who had more than 30 years service in the Gardaí before, he says, he was forced to retire, recently. John, good morning.”

John Wilson: “Good morning, Pat.”

Kenny: “Now, we don’t know the detail of this report. Mick Wallace described it earlier as a ‘whitewash’. But we’ve been promised it will be transparent. What is your reaction to, if you like, the last chapter in your particular personal saga.”

Wilson: “Well, Pat. I initially made a complaint last, through the Garda Confidential Recipient back last March, that’s the Garda whistleblower, Mr Oliver Connolly. And, Mr Connolly handed that complaint to the Garda Commissioner. He informed the Ombudsman on the fourth of April of last year. And my initial allegations, that refered to a small number of, of tickets, fixed charge penalty notices that had been terminated by senior Garda officers. And I was concerned about the manner in which those tickets had been terminated. And I awaited with interest for a response from the Garda Commissioner and weeks turned into months and I got no feedback, I got no response. So, I then contacted Clare Daly, a member of the Oireachtas, to voice my concerns to her. And I outlined, I outlined a large number, I outlined information, a large number of fixed charges, penalty notices that had been, in my opinion, been corruptly terminated by senior Gardaí.”

Kenny: “Now, when you say corruptly terminated. You don’t, well we think is in the report that where there’s no paper trail, where there’s no rationale offered for the quashing of penalty points, that the senior Gardaí involved, and superintendents and inspectors may face disciplinary procedures but if there is a paper trail, if there is a rationale, you know ‘my wife is pregnant, so I’m speeding on my way to the maternity hospital, bla, bla, bla’, where there is a paper trail. You have to say the Gardaí, I may not agree with his or her discretion, but they have that power and it was legally used.”

Wilson: “Pat, in relation to the discretion, you know, the matter of discretion. I heard Mr Sherry this morning talking about discretion and he gave a couple of examples there, in relation to the people with no tax and whatever. You know, I mean, I mean, as I’ve said, I totally agree, and I would always agree. And I mean it’s a good thing in a democracy that there are police force has a modicum of discretion. Now, you see, if I stopped Pat Kenny on a motorway, doing 150 kilometres an hour. And I decide, I say ‘Pat, for god’s sake, you know, will…”

Kenny: “Slow down.”

Wilson: “Will you go a bit easier, Pat, you know, and I’d let you go, right. That’s discretion, Pat. That’s a guard. That’s a Garda Wilson using their discretion.”

Kenny: “Yeah.”

Wilson: “But if I decide that Pat Kenny’s speed warrants the issue of a fixed charge penalty notice, once I, once a guard issues that notice, the only person that can challenge, can challenge the guard’s authority is a member of the judiciary, a judge. So, I mean, what has happened in many cases, that I reported, you had guards doing their job, they were detecting people speeding, using mobile phones or whatever, they lawfully issued fixed charge penalty notices. And the person on the seat of the fixed charge penalty notice was..con..contacted senior Gardaí, behind the back of the original, of the guard and the tickets were subsequently terminated. Right? That, in effect, was undermining the authority of the guards, who were carrying out their duty as such and trying to save people’s lives…”

Kenny: “Yeah. The problem is and I have in front of me the legally possible basis for cancelling penalty points. This is an extract from the Minister for Justice’s speech to the Dáil in September and he says: “Following the introduction of fixed charges, An Garda Síochána established a policy and procedures on the termination/cancellation of fixed charge notices, set out in the fixed charge processing system, full user manual policies procedures, third edition, 2005. In essence, the policy and procedures provides authority to District Officers/Inspector Acting District Officer and the Inspector Fixed Charge Processing Office to cancel fixed charge notices with a policy and procedure framed around legislative exceptions contained in road traffic legislation and regulations, in conjunction with the specific guidelines, issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions.” So, let me just ask you this because it would appear from this that there would be no point in going to the ordinary guard on the motorcycle, in the Traffic Corps, who gives you these points because he doesn’t have the power to terminate them or cancel them, it’s the District Officer or Inspector Acting, so, you know, there would be no point in going to the ordinary guard, that’s why they go above his, or her, head.”

Wilson: “First of all, first of all, Pat, it needs to be clarified that, the fact that a Garda policy is issued, it doesn’t necessarily make it legal. It’s not a legal document. I mean unless it’s a statutory instrument backing it up and, in my opinion, in my opinion, what’s been happening is totally unlawful. The situation is Pat that, I mean, if you were, if you were hurrying to, hurrying into hospital with your wife or whatever, something, I mean for god’s sake Pat, I mean, you know, I mean if that’s a genuine case, you know what I mean, it’d be kind of, you know, if somebody has a ticket, has a ticket cancelled it in those circumstances, fine. But Pat. What’s been happening, and what has happened over the last number of years is the fact that if you have connections with a guard right?”

Kenny: “Yeah.”

Wilson: “I could tell you, Pat that every town in this country right? There are people who have benefited from knowing senior Gardaí right? Basically speaking they’ve got away with everything. The Chris Huhne case in England and it’s been highlighted, it’s been highlighted recently and both himself and his wife got a term of imprisonment for perverting the course of justice, right? Pat, the Chris Huhne case would never happen in this country. Chris Huhne, if he’d been a public representative, would have contacted a garda officer and the matter would have been looked after. You know what I mean? We’re talking about whole scale, a whole scale termination. You know. I mean if you go an ask the ordinary person, Pat who’ve had, who have had penalty points issued to them. Those people have no facility of having a ticket terminated. I can tell you Pat, now and I know you’re in…of time, over the last 30 years, at any time, and I’m going to use this just, I’m going to use the figure of 100 as a, as just an example. I could have prosecuted let’s say 100 people for various offences, for speeding, for kind of talking on mobile phones while driving.”

Kenny: “Yeah.”

Wilson: “98 of those people, Pat, might have had connections and I might have got phonecalls in relation to them. I could have gone into the witness box in any district court in this country, I could have, I could have struck out 98 of those summonses, Pat. I could have proceeded against the two people who have no connections. I could have stepped out and those people would have been convicted and got their penalty points, and got their fines. I could have then stepped out of the witness box, Pat, and neither the judge nor any senior garda officer, or anybody else would question me in relation to why I struck out 98 summonses, right? Now I could tell you Pat that this is a scandal. You cannot have guards investigating guards, Pat. It doesn’t make sense. Now, and as I said, I mean I’m calling for an independent investigation into the allegations that I have made and into the allegations that my colleague has made. It doesn’t have to take six months or a year, and I know in this country, Pat, when people mention and independent inquiry.”

Kenny: “Indeed.”

Wilson: “..that they start panicking over the cost or whatever. But a senior, I mean a High Court judge right, to examine and to carry out a proper independent inquiry into the allegations that I’ve made and into the allegations my colleague has made.”

Kenny: “Right. Well there’ll be a lot more about this, John, later on in the day, when the report is actually published and whether that will change your mind or not, I don’t know. I suspect it won’t. But John, thank you very much for joining us on the line this morning.”

Listen here

Pic: Irish Independent

UPDATE: