All In His Head



You may recall when former Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Independent TD Mick Wallace appeared on RTÉ’s Prime Time on May 16, 2013, to talk about the penalty points report and the appearance of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan at a Public Accounts Committee meeting earlier that day.

During their discussion with presenter, Pat Kenny, Mr Shatter accused Mr Wallace of having been stopped while driving by the gardaí in May 2012 and claimed he benefitted from garda discretion.

The Data Protection Commissioner subsequently found Mr Shatter broke the law by disclosing personal information about Mr Wallace on the show.

This morning, RTÉ reports:

Former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has begun an appeal against a decision of the Data Protection Commissioner that he breached the Data Protection Act.

Mr Shatter says the information about Mr Wallace was given to him orally by the then Garda Commissioner when no other person was present.

He said he did not make any written note of what he was told and retained the information solely in his head.

His lawyers said he was concerned about how the Data Protection Act could be used to regulate information retained solely in a person’s mind.

Alan Shatter begins appeal over Data Commissioner finding (RTÉ News)

Previously: Breaking The Law On Prime Time

How Did He Know?

31 thoughts on “All In His Head

  1. ivan

    there’s *probably* nothing wrong* with Shatter having the information in his head; the data isn’t being ‘used’, although it’s probably ‘processed’ in the sense we process all information taken in.

    He did, however, use the privileged information, and in at attempt to smear a rival. The information not being written down, is, as far as it goes, potentially proof that he didn’t receive the information only.

    Of course, opening his big piehole on the tellybox and smearing Wallace while the tape rolled, blew that outta the water, right?

    *wrong in the sense of it’s hard to nail somebody if they do nothing that demonstrates they have the information in the first place

    1. delacaravanio

      But legally he’s wrong and his name shouldn’t be cleared. The data was garda data. The gardaí are part of the state, and are subject to the oversight of the department of justice, of which he was minister. In his capacity as minister he was given the information (which is subject to the same rules as any other information held by the gardai, or the department of justice) by the garda commissioner and as such it remains data that is being controlled by the gardai/department of justice for the purposes of data protection. His subsequent blurting it out on telly was an unlawful disclosure.

      He’s just a wanker.

      1. Frilly Keane, Anyone?

        And its dangerous

        Cause I have private and confidential info inside my head doesn’t mean I can spew it out when my knickers gets twisted

  2. Starina

    petty and knowingly obtuse. he’s in trouble for telling the nation on live tv, not for having the info in his head. grasping at straws.

  3. Mysterymeat

    What about the Official Secrets Act, or some other such legislation? Surely it can’t be the case that the Minister for Justice is at liberty to divulge any information he’s given by the Gardai, so long as he doesn’t write it down when he gets it?

  4. Clampers Outside!

    If he wants to get technical… the fact he had information in his head that he wasn’t supposed to have and then he purposefully leaked it should surely cripple his defence. Particularly when he demostrated that the private information was not properly protected by being in his head…. so, he still comes out as an incompetent arrogant fool of a man.

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        The sad reality is that many don’t. I lodged a complaint to the DPC against a politician seeking election in 2011 who had publicly shared hundreds of email addresses of constituents.

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          really? Its fairly common sense stuff. I guess people are really stupid/the law isn’t enforced. Can people be fined? More importantly, are they fined for data breaches?

          1. Spaghetti Hoop

            Yes – there are civil and criminal penalties, anything from a few grand to 250k. The politician in my case wasn’t fined, but was forced to apologise to myself and all email recipients for the breach. Have to say the Data Protection Office were professional and smart with their handling. Got the impression that every complaint was given due attention.

    1. delacaravanio

      Costs are decided at the end. If he wins (and he won’t, unless the judge is a big fan of smoking crack) the state will pick up the bill, otherwise he pays.

  5. ahjayzis

    Sooooo… if I have a chat with Al’s GP, and there’s no one in the room with us, and he confides in me that Alan has syphilis or piles or something, it’s then perfectly legal for me to ring Joe on Liveline and divulge that to the nation. Because it was in my head. And to rule that act as illegal it’s the Thought Police.

    Edward Snowden should have applied for Asylum here, as long as the all the info lived in his brain for a few weeks before being disseminated.

    We must always be wary of imparting critical information we do not now, or at any time, contain in our heads.

    What an absolute goon, there really is no redeeming feature or virtue in this arrogant tosser.

  6. Paolo

    He should have been sacked for avoiding the police checkpoint. Serving TDs cannot be stopped when going to or coming from the Dail when on Dail business. This is to avoid the possibility of a coup d’etat and Shatter knew that this is the purpose of the law. Unless he felt that there was a coup taking place, he should have complied with the Garda checkpoint like all of the other plebs. I don’t know for sure why he would want to pull rank like that but I can think of a couple of reasons.

  7. notlucas

    Hate to say it but if you’re going to crucify him under the Data Protection Act then it must meet the criteria for not taking appropriate measures to protect stored information. Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a Being a Total Ass Act which might be easier to convict him under but you never know, apparently he draws up pieces of legislation before breakfast so watch this space.

  8. bobsyerauntie

    Shatter looks like the spoiled little boy in the playground who goes around shit-stirring… His smirk says it all. Utterly vile, and anyhow, how could we trust someone with eye-brows like that?

  9. Nially

    This is such legal nonsense. Under the terms of the law, whether or not he received the information in written form or wrote anything down himself, “processing” is defined as including any form of dissemination or transmission of sensitive personal data (which includes, unsurprisingly, the (alleged) commission of any offence). It doesn’t matter that he talked about it on camera (although that’s obviously, ya know, a shitbaggy thing to do); he’d be breaching data protection law by saying it to anyone who wasn’t authorised to know it, in any context.

    (Like, not that it’s not *plausible* that our Dept of Justice and AG office would managed to draft a data protection law that omitted to cover information that isn’t written down, but like, in this case they very clearly haven’t)

    Like, there can’t possibly be any benefit to this case for him, can there? It’s a really public reminder of what a power-abusing scumbag he is, that makes him look legally ignorant and shallow, with the potential upside that he *might* manage to convince a court that he, very technically, didn’t breach the DPA. This is purely and simply him being an insanely arrogant egomaniac, right?

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