From top: Former Garda Commissioners Martin Callinan and Nóirín O’Sullivan, former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor, solicitor Gerald Kean, (from left) former Assistant Commissioner for the Northern Region Kieran Kenny, former Chief Supt Jim Sheridan, Det Supt John O’Reilly, and Inspector Pat O’Connell; Sgt Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine McCabe
This afternoon, statements will be made in the Dáil in respect of Judge Peter Charleton’s report on the Disclosures Tribunal from 4.50pm this afternoon.
It follows the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan telling the Dáil this morning that, since the publication of Judge Charleton’s report, he has apologised to Sgt McCabe and his family.
In addition, Sgt McCabe and his wife Lorraine will this week meet the newly appointed Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to discuss Judge Charleton’s report.
Ahead of this…
Mr Justice Peter Charleton found it was “a dreadful struggle to attempt to uncover what may have gone on behind closed doors” in relation to Sgt Maurice McCabe before he ultimately found that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and former Garda press officer Supt Dave Taylor acted together to denigrate the Garda whistleblower’s character.
He said such a “struggle” should not happen, adding:
“People are obligated by patriotic duty to cooperate with judicial processes, whether in the police or public service or not.”
In his report, Judge Charleton praised the truthfulness of several witnesses.
But, elsewhere, he wrote how some witnesses from An Garda Síochána, TUSLA and the media frustrated the tribunal’s efforts to effectively find out what exactly happened to Sgt McCabe.
In relation to members of An Garda Síochána…
Judge Charleton said the tribunal wrote to more than 430 different individuals at assistant commissioner, chief superintendent and superintendent rank, including retired senior officers.
“none of these individuals replied with any relevant information, apart from two officers” before adding that “no inference can be drawn as to whether these other senior officers had any relevant information which they chose not to share”.
He did find that after accepting the evidence of four individuals – namely that of Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy, Fine Gael TD John Deasy and RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes and rejecting Mr Callinan’s denials of the same – it is likely that other people close to Mr Callinan were told similar things about Sgt McCabe.
Judge Charleton accepted Mr McGuinness’s evidence that Mr Callinan told him Sgt McCabe “fiddles with kids” and referred to both Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson as “fucking headbangers”.
He accepted that Mr Callinan told Mr McGuinness, during a meeting in a car park of Bewley’s Hotel on the Naas Road, Dublin, on Friday, January 24, 2014, that Sgt McCabe sexually abused his children and nieces.
And he accepted that Mr Callinan led him to believe there was a live investigation of some kind, causing Mr McGuinness to believe that charges against Sgt McCabe were imminent.
Judge Charleton accepted that Mr Callinan told Fine Gael TD John Deasy, on the way to the same PAC meeting, that Sgt McCabe was not to be believed or trusted with anything.
He also accepted the evidence of the Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy – whose report into the quashing of penalty points was being discussed at that PAC meeting – that Mr Callinan told him Sgt McCabe was not to be trusted, that he had questions to answer, and that there were live allegations of sexual offences against him.
And he accepted that Mr Callinan told Mr Boucher-Hayes, before a broadcast of RTE’s Crimecall, that Sgt McCabe was a “troubled individual” with a “lot of psychological issues and psychiatric issues”.
Because of the evidence of the four witnesses above, Judge Charleton wrote:
“The tribunal does not find it probable that interactions of a similar nature were not had with at least some of those who were close to Martin Callinan in An Garda Síochána.
“No such evidence was volunteered to the tribunal or otherwise given in evidence by any serving or former officer. The tribunal is not able to make any finding of fact in this regard against any particular person.”
While finding that the then Deputy Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan played no part in the smear campaign, Judge Charleton did note:
“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.”
Judge Charleton also found the manner in which Mr Callinan briefed solicitor Gerald Kean about Sgt McCabe ahead of a broadcast on RTE’s Marian Finucane in January 2014, and assisted Mr Kean in responding to a legal letter from Sgt McCabe post-broadcast, as “strongly speaking to a strong animus by Commissioner Martin Callinan against Maurice McCabe”.
[Sgt McCabe took a defamation action against Mr Kean and RTE following the broadcast with Sgt McCabe ultimately settling with RTE and not pursuing the case against Mr Kean]
The judge said he was satisfied Mr Kean knew of the tribunal’s public appeal for information but noted that “it was only through the diligence of tribunal counsel, sorting through tens of thousands of items of discovered documents”, that it learned of the episode concerning Mr Callinan and Mr Kean.
Specifically, Judge Charleton had the following to say about other members of An Garda Síochána.
Supt Dave Taylor
Judge Charleton did not hold back in his scathing criticism of Supt Taylor.
He rejected Supt Taylor’s claim that he was working “under orders” from Mr Callinan and, instead, found “he [Taylor] 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.”
He found that Supt Taylor was “was suffused in bitterness against” Ms O’Sullivan after she removed him from the Garda Press Office upon taking over from Mr Callinan.
And he found Supt Taylor made up many lies about his and Mr Callinan’s smear campaign against Sgt McCabe – and that neither Ms O’Sullivan nor Director of Communications Andrew McLindon had any part in the smear campaign.
He found that the purpose of these lies was to obfuscate disciplinary proceedings against him – proceedings which were commenced against him in 2015 because of his leaking of material to journalists after he was removed from the Garda Press Office, following Mr Callinan’s retirement in March 2014.
[A criminal investigation into the leaking of material by Supt Taylor, after he left the Garda Press Office, was carried out but the DPP ruled against a prosecution. While giving evidence in the tribunal, Supt Taylor fully accepted the bona fides of the investigation into him and accepted Ms O’Sullivan had nothing to do with it. He also accepted there was nothing on his seized phones worth destroying in terms of the alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe – not least because the phone which was relevant to the period of the alleged smear campaign (mid-2013 to March/April 2014) was not seized. Judge Charleton said he was satisfied this crucial phone was in Supt Taylor’s home and he did not surrender it to the tribunal]
The judge found that Supt Taylor’s sworn affidavit to the High Court in February 2016 to stop the disciplinary proceedings – some seven months before he met and told Sgt McCabe of the smear campaign – “was almost entirely made up of nothing but lies”.
Judge Charleton found he lied when he claimed that the Garda investigation into his “disgraceful” leaking of material to the press – wholly unrelated to Sgt McCabe – was part of a Garda conspiracy to seize his phones and computers in order to wipe them of evidence of the smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.
And he found he lied when he told people – such as Sgt McCabe, Independents 4 Change TDs Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford – that Mr Callinan had created negative texts about Sgt McCabe for Supt Taylor to disseminate.
Judge Charleton noted that Supt Taylor’s application for a judicial reivew never reached full hearing in the High Court because Supt Taylor never pursued it.
“In reality, Superintendent Taylor did not pursue it because, through it and through his other manoeuvres, he had got what he wanted. On 14 February, 2017, Superintendent Taylor resumed his duties in Dublin Castle.”
When the tribunal’s hearings came to a close several months ago, Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, in the closing submissions, put it to Judge Charleton:
“Has he [Taylor] come here as an entirely free man or has his reinstatement put him under an obligation to dilute his evidence and is it a good explanation as to why he was so milk and watery in so many respects?”
“Why was his suspension lifted? Why was his suspicion lifted if he was so obviously leaking and behaving in a manner which would get any rank and file member of An Garda Síochána, if they were caught doing it, the door almost immediately?”
Judge Charleton made no reference to this query of Mr McDowell’s in his report and rubbished it on the day of the closing submissions.
The unexplained dropping of the disciplinary proceedings against Supt Taylor did cause Judge Charleton to write:
“The criminal charges had been dropped. Disciplinary proceedings against Superintendent Taylor were discontinued for some unexplained reason by Garda Headquarters in February 2018. As to the terms on which the High Court proceedings were discontinued and as to the reason why the disciplinary proceedings were dropped, the tribunal specifically asked for information. That was not forthcoming.”
“The only point which the tribunal considers it necessary to make on this is that this inescapably demonstrates what Mr Justice Frederick Morris said in the reports of the Morris Tribunal: the system of garda discipline is not fit for purpose. Turning an internal matter of who should or should not continue to be a policeman or policewoman into a complex series of steps, susceptible at every stage to judicial review and attendant delay, that ends in what is in effect a full criminal trial conducted internally with An Garda Síochána has been a disaster for the country.”
Supt John O’Reilly
Judge Charleton found that Mr Callinan’s “disgusting” remark about Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson at the PAC meeting in January 2014 “caused a storm of public controversy”.
“It also led, the tribunal is satisfied, to yet more energetic circulation of the rumours already in currency that identified Maurice McCabe with sexual abuse.”
On March 8, 2014, Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent, met with Ms D who, in 2006, made a “dry humping” allegation against Sgt McCabe.
[In 2007, the DPP ruled there was no basis for any prosecution in regards to Ms D’s complaint]
Mr Williams’ articles about Ms D were published in April and May 2014.
The focus of these articles was Ms D’s unhappiness with the Garda investigation into her 2006 complaint, which was carried out by Supt Noel Cunningham.
Judge Charleton, having read Supt Cunningham’s investigation report, repeatedly told the tribunal that his investigation was a “model” investigation.
Mr Williams’ articles came about after Det Supt John O’Reilly, a friend of both Ms D’s father Mr D and Mr Williams, put the two men in touch with each other.
The tribunal heard differing evidence from Mr D and Det Supt O’Reilly about who suggested to whom that Ms D talk to Mr Williams – after Irish Mail on Sunday journalist Debbie McCann and Irish Sun journalist Eavan Murray had called to the D house – but the judge found:
“The tribunal does not accept that any idea about talking to the media or any idea as to a suitable person within the media came from anyone other than Mr D.”
Det Supt O’Reilly told the tribunal in evidence that he subsequently believed that his setting up of contact between Mr Williams and Mr D was “unwise”.
But Judge Charleton went further, finding:
“It did no service to anyone. It caused further and completely unjustified pain to Maurice McCabe and to his family. The right advice from Detective Superintendent O’Reilly would have been to leave matters that belong in the past to the past; that is even supposing that some event had occurred.
“It should be remembered that he was a policeman. Why did Detective Superintendent O’Reilly not support the integrity and thoroughness of his honest police inquiries? Why did he imagine that there could be anything wrong with the investigation?
“Given that a thorough investigation had been undertaken, and that over fifteen years had passed since the time of the alleged event, nothing positive could have come out of this. Nothing positive did come of it.”
Chief Supt Jim Sheridan
In May 2014, when Sgt McCabe was widely known across Ireland as a Garda whistleblower, a false rape allegation against him was sent to An Garda Síochána.
This occurred after an error by RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy – while filling out a referral form for TUSLA on foot of counselling sessions with Ms D in August 2013 but using a template from a wholly separate client (Ms Y) who alleged to have been raped by somebody who was not Sgt McCabe – resulted in Ms D’s allegation being recorded as a rape allegation.
This incorrect document sat in a cabinet in the offices of TUSLA from August 2013 until May 2014 when it was suddenly plucked out and circulated to the gardai and presented as a true allegation.
Judge Charleton could not definitively rule on how such a catastrophic coincidence came to pass.
“The tribunal cannot identify the mind behind the decision to revive the matter at that point but the tribunal regards the explanation of mere coincidence as wholly unconvincing. As to whether it was either Laura Connolly or Eileen Argue or someone directing either of them, there is insufficient evidence to make a decision.
“The reality is that someone within TUSLA realised that they had what they perceived to be unfinished business with Maurice McCabe and decided that for the avoidance of trouble, the business should then be dealt with. This was not, as was related to the tribunal, a coincidence. It is very disappointing that the tribunal could not have been told by TUSLA what actually happened.”
But worse was to come.
Judge Charleton found that Chief Supt Sheridan – in the full knowledge that this rape allegation was false – sent it up the line to Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny.
“This kept alive in garda administration files an allegation of a rape offence that no one had ever made against Maurice McCabe. This was inappropriate and extraordinary.“
“There is no explanation other than that a false allegation against Maurice McCabe of a rape offence had been passed from a chief superintendent to an assistant commissioner. This is incomprehensible.”
Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny
Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny, who had knowledge of Ms D’s 2006 allegation, then forwarded the false allegation to the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan.
Mr Kenny told the tribunal that when he received it, he wasn’t sure if the rape allegation was an extension of the 2006 allegation.
After he received a correction, and an amended referral, he told the tribunal he never forwarded this on to Ms O’Sullivan.
Judge Charleton said he found this “disturbing”.
“The allegation of the rape offence should not have been notified to the assistant commissioner. The allegation of the rape offence, further, should never have been notified to Garda Headquarters by the assistant commissioner. When the corrected notification had been received from social services, the assistant commissioner was notified by Chief Superintendent Sheridan. That notification was in the clearest possible terms.
“Assistant Commissioner Kenny left the administrative centre of the national police force with false information that a person from within garda ranks who was complaining about police standards had been the subject of a rape offence allegation.”
Furthermore, Judge Charleton wrote:
“The tribunal cannot accept that there was any reason consistent with the proper and fair-minded discharge of duties that could explain why Garda Headquarters and the Garda Commissioner were left with a report against Maurice McCabe that a young woman had alleged he had committed a rape offence.
“A notification of this importance could not have been made without an express order from Assistant Commissioner Kenny. The erroneous rape offence report passed on to Garda Headquarters and to the Garda Commissioner required Assistant Commissioner Kenny to withdraw it. In his evidence he claimed that he had thought that this correction should have been made by his staff. His staff could not, however, in a matter of this importance, have acted without his direction.
“As a matter of official record, this false notification of a rape offence against Maurice McCabe remained on file in Garda Headquarters up to the commencement of this tribunal in February 2017.”
In regards to Ms O’Sullivan’s receipt of this false rape referral, it was the evidence of her then private secretary Supt Frank Walsh that she read it but that, after reading it, he could not recall her saying anything or reacting in any way to it.
It was her evidence that she couldn’t recall reading it.
A few months later, she had a meeting with Sgt McCabe about workplace issues and did not tell him about the rape allegation.
[Sgt McCabe didn’t become aware of it until in or around New Year’s Day 2016].
Judge Charleton found:
“Possibly, she did not read the notification properly. Superintendent Walsh was clear in his evidence that he drew the specific allegation to her attention. Possibly, this could have been a case of unpleasant allegations going in one ear and out the other.
“She would have had at least a vague impression in meeting Maurice McCabe that this was a man who had been accused of a rape offence. That, however, was in no way her fault. She could only go on what was reported to her.”
Inspector Patrick O’Connell
A meeting was held in Mullingar Garda Station in July 2014 about the false rape referral.
In attendance at the meeting was Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny, Chief Superintendent James Sheridan, Superintendent Leo McGinn [who first received the rape referral and bounced it on to Chief Supt Sheridan – an action which the judge found to be correct], and Sergeant Karen Duffy who took minutes of the meeting.
Judge Charleton found that Supt Noel Cunningham, who carried out the investigation into Ms D’s 2006 complaint, was purposefully not invited to the meeting.
“The tribunal can only infer that some among the gardaí attending made a decision to exclude him…His absence, and the complete absence of any rational excuse for not inviting him, casts a pall of unreality over testimony about that gathering. “
According to the minutes of the meeting, it was decided that two things would happen – Chief Supt Sheridan would contact the HSE while contact would also be made with Head of Legal Affairs at An Garda Síochána Ken Ruane.
However neither of these two things happened.
In respect of any further contact with the health services, Judge Charleton also found:
“After an email was sent to Inspector Patrick O’Connell by Fiona Ward of Rian giving the correct contact details for a TUSLA social worker, Chief Superintendent Sheridan said he was not notified and so nothing further happened. Inspector O’Connell claims to have been busy, transferring out of the district and celebrating that with a gathering, and says that he perhaps deleted the relevant email. He claims no recollection of ever seeing the email. The tribunal does not accept his evidence in this respect.”
In addition, during the meeting in Mullingar, Ms D was referred to as “the injured party”, while Sgt McCabe was referred to as “the suspected offender”.
Judge Charleton found:
“To Chief Superintendent Sheridan, the minutes of the meeting ascribe the extraordinary statement that since “the injured party” had “reported the matter to” the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission “the matter would be re- investigated and that the suspected offender may be exposed.”
“To that, it might usefully have been pointed out by someone that the Director of Public Prosecutions had ruled that no sexual assault or any assault had been committed, even if the Ms D allegation were true and raised no credibility issues. Exposure was not in prospect. Nor was it desirable since no offence had been committed.
“Enough time was spent during the tribunal hearings on this meeting to offer some enlightenment. No enlightenment came.
“The tribunal is not content to accept any one of the several broadly conforming accounts as to the purpose and content of this meeting. Little of that testimony struck home in the context of the already listed infirmities of the meeting. Certainly, the meeting would have been a reminder to Assistant Commissioner Kenny that he had made an incorrect report of a rape offence to Garda Headquarters against Maurice McCabe. But it resulted in nothing.”
Of the gardai named above, Mr Callinan, Mr Taylor, Ms O’Sullivan, Mr Sheridan and Mr Kenny are now retired.
The report can be read in full here