Legal Coffee Drinker: The Charleton Report – Conclusions


From top: Justice Peter Charleton; Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan (right) with former Garda Press Officer Dave Taylor; Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan; Today’s report.

This afternoon

Further to the release of Justice Peter Charleton’s Disclosures Tribunal report, we asked the eminently caffeinated Legal Coffee Drinker: what’s it all about?

Broadsheet: “Legal Coffee Drinker, what’s it all about?”

Legal Coffee Drinker: “The Report on matters dealing with the conduct of the Health Service Executive, the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA), RTÉ, Garda Headquarters and Garda officers concerning Sergeant Maurice McCabe and related matters, prepared by the Honourable Mr Justice Peter Charleton and published this lunchtime.”

Broadsheet: “So what are its conclusions?”

LCD: “Justice Charleton is hugely positive about Maurice McCabe, whom he describes as

‘…A genuine person who at all times has had the interests of the people of Ireland uppermost in his mind… an extremely serious state of lack of application to duty and failure to follow basic and fundamental procedures was at the heart of [his] legitimate concerns…

Maurice McCabe has done the State considerable service by bringing these matters to the attention of the wider public and he has done so not out of a desire to inflate his public profile, but out of a legitimate drive to ensure that the national police force serves the people through hard work and diligence.

He is an exemplar of that kind of attitude. Notwithstanding everything that happened to him, he remains an officer of exemplary character and has shown himself in giving evidence to the tribunal as being a person of admirable fortitude.’

The overall purpose of his report, he says, is to ascertain how such a man became the subject of a level of calumny and gossip which most people would find shocking.”

Broadsheet: “And what conclusion does he reach on this issue?”

LCD: “Justice Charleton says that the rumours about McCabe arose for a number of reasons:-

(i) A culture of Garda gossip

According to Charleton:

‘…by a natural process, following the investigation conducted in consequence of the allegation of Ms D, about which the tribunal makes no comment and can make no finding one way or another, it was inevitable that local gardaí should hear about the matter and that talk should begin. , talk against him began to grow.

He came to be seen by a substantial minority of his fellow officers as a pariah and someone who was heedlessly causing trouble.

Consequently, rumours grew out from the garda community and reached political and journalistic circles. closed and self-loyal organisations are ones in which an attitude can take hold and can be very hard to displace.’

(ii) An accidental mistake by an employee of the Cavan counseling organisation, Rian

Again, according to Charleton:

“Within the counselling organisation, Rian in Cavan, a mistake was made in transcribing an account of Ms D by mixing that up with the account of a Ms Y. In the result, the complaint of Ms D about an alleged and brief fully clothed encounter became a complaint of vaginal and digital anal penetration: a rape offence.

Yet, the transcription error turning the fully clothed alleged encounter, which the Director of Public Prosecutions had described as not disclosing an offence, became a rape allegation through a mistake…..

This must be one of the most unlikely coincidences ever to be accepted by any judicial tribunal. Yet, coincidence it was. All of the witnesses were honest. The computer analysis checks out absolutely correctly.

So do the paper files. When the mistake was discovered nearly a year later in 2014 when Maurice McCabe was even better known, the person who made it did all she could to rectify it.”

(iii) The perpetuation by the Cavan/Monaghan branch of TULSA of this mistake rather than rectifying it. (More here)

(iv) Failures on the part of the Northern Region Gardai to correct the error when they became aware of it

In addition to the failures of Tulsa, the Northern Region Gardai also played a role in perpetuating the erroneous Rian report.According to Charleton, this inaccurate report

‘…was sent to the assistant commissioner of the Northern Region. Garda Headquarters was immediately informed of the false report as if it had been true. When the report to the Northern Region was explicitly corrected and the error explained, the incorrect report to Garda Headquarters was never uncorrected.’

(v). RTÉ’s inaccurate reporting of the O’Higgins Commission Report

Sergeant McCabe’s position was further worsened by the fact that RTÉ, in its broadcasts of the 9th May 2016, wrongly implied that the O’Higgins Commission had been critical of him.

In fact, according to Charleton, RTÉ had completely misunderstood the message of Mr Justice O’Higgins, which was that the Gardai were to wake up and actually start doing its job properly.

(vi) A deliberate campaign to damage McCabe on the part of Dave Taylor and Martin Callinan

The Report is particularly critical of Superintendent David Taylor, describing him as”

“…a witness whose credibility was completely undermined by his own bitterness and by the untruthful nature of his affidavit in the judicial review proceedings that he intended to commence before the High Court, and while his motivation in bringing forward this allegation was to stop or undermine a criminal investigation rightly being taken against him.”

It does, however, conclude that Superintendent Taylor was right about one thing:

“[t]here was a campaign of calumny against Maurice McCabe. He himself was, along with Commissioner Callinan, the prime mover… Superintendent David Taylor completely understated his own involvement in a campaign of calumny against Maurice McCabe.

He claimed, for the first time, while giving evidence to the tribunal that he was acting under orders. That was not the case. The tribunal is convinced that he pursued a scheme that somehow evolved out of his cheek-by-jowl working relationship with Commissioner Callinan.

Their plan was that there was to be much nodding and winking and references to a historic claim of sexual abuse while, at the same time, saying that the Director of Public Prosecutions had ruled that even if the central allegation did not have credibility issues, what was described did not amount to an offence of sexual assault or even an assault.

Debbie McCann and Eavan Murray, were… like Cathal McMahon, another journalist nominated by Superintendent David Taylor in the dying days of evidence before the tribunal, encouraged to seek out Ms D and to publish a negative story about Maurice McCabe in relation to her allegation…. committed journalists who were looking for news [they] were very unfortunate to have come within the orbit of Superintendent David Taylor.

Commissioner Martin Callinan… personally felt the need to supplement [these] efforts of his press officer… by speaking to two Teachtaí Dála, Deputy John McGuinness and Deputy John Deasy, an to the Comptroller and Auditor General, Séamus McCarthy, in the most derogatory way about Maurice McCabe.”

Broadsheet: “Heavy stuff. A comprehensive and hard-hitting Report then so?”

LCD: “Not exactly. Although the conclusions of fact regarding Commissioner Callinan are the most striking feature of the Report, Charleton in no way subjects the Commissioner to the same level of criticism and exoriation as he does Superintendent Taylor.

Instead of focusing, as one might expect, on the deplorable behavior of the head of the Force, Charleton’s conclusions and recommendations at the end of the Report feature numerous matters unrelated to the issues under inquiry.

These include Garda failure to publicly direct traffic and the good character of Leslie Price de Barra, a veteran of the 1916 Rising.

Earlier portions of the report also quote from Hamlet, [Anton] Chekov and [Immanuel] Kant…”

Broadsheet: (coughing) “I beg your pardon?”

LCD: “German, 17th century philosopher.”

Broadsheet: “Ah. I thought you said….”

LCD: “AND he also quoted from an article he himself had written in the Irish Journal of Legal Studies (Vol 1 2010).”

Broadsheet: (slackens jaw)

LCD: “Choosing to opine on matters of history, philosophy and traffic control outside the remit of the inquiry, while entertaining, has the unfortunate effect of downplaying and soft-pedaling the findings regarding Commissioner Callinan and, in so doing, itself commits a further injustice to Sergeant McCabe.”

Broadsheet: “Any more soft pedaling?”

LCD: “It is also present in the Report’s attitude to subsequent Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan. Charleton takes the view that she was not involved in a campaign to smear Maurice McCabe, regarding Dave Taylor’s allegations against her as motivated by malice. However he does indicate that in some respects he doesn’t believe O’Sullivan’s evidence:-

“She reached out to Maurice McCabe and attempted to solve the workplace-related issues which surrounded him.

These efforts were successful at first, but were undermined by what she felt was the necessity to test where he was coming from in the very serious allegations of corruption that he was making before the O’Higgins Commission.

Her decision in that regard involved talking at length to officials in the Department of Justice and Equality. She is likely to have remembered that, contrary to her evidence, because she realised what was at stake.

It is also improbable that she did not have an inkling at the very least about Commissioner Callinan’s views. At the very least,

it was more than improbable that nothing emerged in the car journey with him back to Garda Headquarters from the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on 23 January 2014.

It was disappointing to hear her evidence on this.”

Broadsheet: “Disappointing?”

LCD: “Effectively, what this is saying is that Noirin O’Sullivan, while not implicated in the smear of McCabe, was not truthful in her evidence – an extremely serious conclusion with regard to a former Garda Commissioner, and something which surely merits more than just ‘disappointment’.”

Broadsheet: “I’m sure Mr.Kant would have something stronger to say on the subject.”

LCD: (drains coffee)

Broadsheet: “Were he still with us, bless his mind. Thank you Legal Coffee Drinker for that comprehensive and illuminating yet depressing round-up. You are never a disappointment to us.”

LCD: *click*

Earlier: Justice Charleton On…

Shamefully Treated

23 thoughts on “Legal Coffee Drinker: The Charleton Report – Conclusions

      1. phil

        WHAT! I thought it was only a handful , thats so weird , why would either side what the potential danger, and how might a hard working a solicitor or barrister ever hope to be noticed if the had no interest in politics? I was sure there was some sort of rule that insisted on policing, courts and parliament having to be totally independent of each other…. Maybe I watch too much TV…

        1. Cian

          From wiki:

          Judges are appointed by the President of Ireland, acting on the binding advice of the Government. The Government themselves act on the advice of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board who submit a list of seven recommended candidates. However the government are not bound to follow the advice of the Board and may decide to appoint other qualified individuals.

      1. Cian

        It depends what you mean by ‘judge’ and ‘appointed’:
        He was appointed as a Judge of the High Court in 2006, [FF-PD]
        assigned to the Commercial Court from 2010 [FF-Green]
        appointed to the Supreme Court in June 2014 [FG-Lab]

  1. Daisy Chainsaw

    Conclusions: Sweet Fupp All will be done to those who colluded against Maurice McCabe to destroy his good name and reputation because Ireland Inc doesn’t punish inside it’s own circles.

    1. Cian

      Yes. But this is the always the outcome of a tribunal.

      Those setting up the tribunal were ensuring that nobody would be punished.

      1. Giggidygoo

        And how, if there wasn’t a tribunal, would the truth have come out? Would there have been people volunteering evidence in a court case? Would McCabe have the finances to pursue such a case?
        I for one am happy that this tribunal happened. I wonder will Taylor and Callinan be socializing much in the future?
        We have got more truth out of this that i’d hoped for.

  2. martco

    apols for the language in advance, just dunno how else to phrase it frankly

    all I keep thinking of is….
    if I’d been Maurice McCabe & hadn’t been smart enough to carry a tape recorder around, given the demonstrated width and depth of evil these _______ we’re up to….well I genuinely think there’s a very good chance I would have topped myself and none of ye would have ever heard of me

  3. Dub Spot

    In fairness, I think this is a good report that “exonerates” Mr McCabe. I’ll take what the good Justice Charlton says as is, though I personally do not find it credible that ii) was an accident and that iii) was anything other than part of the same gossipy/malicious culture attributed to others.

    It should be pointed out that the honourable Justice has made a very politically excoriation of the Gardai and its understanding of its very existence – no doubt the AGSI and their confederates will be look to the courts, buying pints for the media over that too. And in using the cycle lanes example he’s won the respect of evry cyclist in Dublin and urban centre.

    In other words, the Gardai haven’t a clue of the basics of their obligations.

    Judge criticises ‘extraordinarily rare’ presence of gardaí on the streets

    “It is extraordinarily rare that gardaí are seen in uniform on the streets,” the judge observed in his tribunal report, “in contrast to other major cities, such as Rome and London and Athens, where police are visible at intersections, at junctions and in public plazas.”

    The judge also observed that gardaí routinely fail to keep cycle lanes free for vulnerable road users even if the transgressions occur near Garda stations.

    “Cars block cycle lanes, intrude on them and endanger cyclists. That happens repeatedly within a minute’s walk of Garda stations. So, where are the gardaí?”

    Mr Justice Charleton said some people may see the failure of gardaí to police cycle lanes as a “small example” but “the consequences of serious injury, for even one person, is a tragedy”.

    He concluded: “If it is said that the gardaí are too busy to be out on foot or on bicycles, the tribunal begs to doubt that. Everyone serving in the police should give a portion of the day to foot and bicycle patrols.”

    Being visible was one of seven obligations that gardaí should have, he suggested. He recommended that gardaí shouldn’t moan, but a garda should “ask himself or herself what he or she has done on any particular day for the taxpayer”.

    “Diligence and application to duty are expected of all: not moaning,” he stated.

    The seven obligations were listed as follow (lose the HATTITUDE DOWN THE BACK THIS IS ON THE TEMPLEMORE EXAM):

    * Gardaí should take pride in their work and in their uniform.

    *They should always be honest.

    * They should be visible.

    * They should be polite to the public. “There are certain words which should never pass the lips of those who serve their country in uniform.”

    *They should serve the people of Ireland and not moan.

    * They should put the their obligation to the truth in front of sticking up for each other.

    * Gardaí should always be self-analysing their performance and shouldn’t need tribunals to tell them how to behave.

  4. anne

    So Shakespeare, Kant & cycle lanes.. someone actually read the whole thing. And he cited himself.. ok.

    Could he not have saved the eccentricity for a novel or something.

    He seemed to go easy on the women. Francis Fitzgerald was incompetent at best. O’Sullivan instructed her lawyers to question McCabes motivation.

    Dave Taylor was following his “disgusting” boss’ orders – Callinhan.. When he contributed to the smearing of McCabe it was at the instruction of Callinhan. Any personal “bitterness” felt by Taylor was subsequent to the smear campaign.

    He was bitter, ergo he wasn’t credible? hmmm.

    But Callinan was found to have whispered in the ear of at least 4 others.. but Dave Taylor, yeah bitter..

    to be or not to be..Is that Hamlet? There are more things in heaven and earth than..

  5. Truth in the News

    We have to get back to the person who originally outed and did the legwork that brought
    the entire issue to public notice…..little wonder that they did not get the opportunity to grace
    the ballot paper…..what steps are those in authority taking to reinstate the penalty points
    cancelled…….only when this is done will justice be done.

  6. Emily Dickinson

    In respect of point V, I don’t recall RTE reporting that they were criticised in any way at all. I’m pretty sure they said their man was vindicated.
    More generally, with so much evidence destroyed, so many journalists pleading the fifth, and the testimony of senior guards as reliable as that given by a random street-dealer, Charleton was left with little new material with which to work.
    The findings were largely self-evident and a competent political system would have dealt with all these matters years ago. And finally, you don’t need to read Kant to know that police officers should tell the truth and uphold the law.

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