Garda Keith Harrison and Supreme Court Judge Peter Charleton
In the High Court.
Garda Keith Harrison made a judicial review application asking for Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton’s Second Interim Report of the Disclosures Tribunal to be quashed.
He’s also seeking orders prohibiting the further publication of the second interim report and the parts of the third interim report which relate to him, and that Justice Charleton is precluded from dealing with any other matters relating to Garda Harrison and the tribunal.
He further seeks a declaration that the judge has acted in breach of the garda’s rights to natural and constitutional justice and under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Garda Harrison had claimed his working life was difficult since he allegedly raised concerns about a garda’s conduct in Athlone in 2008, and subsequently arrested the same garda for drink-driving in 2009.
It was his contention gardai manipulated domestic incidents involving him and his partner Marissa Simms and this resulted in a referral being made to Tusla in February 2014.
Last November, Justice Charleton, in his second interim report, rejected all allegations made by Garda Harrison and his partner Marissa Simms.
In his report, Justice Charleton wrote:
“Very serious allegations were made by Garda Keith Harrison and by Marisa Simms. While they presented themselves as being the victims of others, the reality that should not be forgotten is that to be wrongly accused is a deeply upsetting experience. Essentially, they accused the gardai in Donegal of interfering in their home and family life. This was due, they claimed, to malice against him.
“All of the allegations of Garda Keith Harrison and Marisa Simms examined by the tribunal are entirely without any validity. They have claimed to have been the victims of a malicious procession of events. That is not so.
“They claimed to have been the victims of others. There is another side to this.
“The allegations which they made must have taken a considerable emotional toll on several of the multiple persons accused by them of very serious misconduct. It is appropriate here to exonerate everyone in social services and in policing accused by them of discreditable conduct.
“That is the only possible conclusion to the tribunal’s enquiry. It is also amply corroborated by the supporting evidence analysed in this report.”
In his protected disclosure, prior to the setting up of the Disclosures Tribunal, Garda Harrison claimed Chief Supt for Donegal division Terry McGinn had directed certain gardai to target him.
Justice Charleton, in his second interim report, categorically rejected this allegation.
Garda Harrison is seeking the report into him to be quashed based on previous interactions Justice Charleton had with Chief Supt McGinn during the Morris Tribunal which Garda Harrison believes gives rise to a presumption of bias and doubts as to Justice Charleton’s independence or impartiality.
At the Morris Tribunal, Chief Supt McGinn was the garda liaison officer to the tribunal while Justice Charleton was one of the tribunal’s counsel.
In his judicial review, Garda Harrison has highlighted two newspaper reports from The Irish Times in 2006 about the proceedings at the Morris Tribunal, and the transcript of the same.
One report, dated march 30, 2006, stated:
RTÉ was criticised today after it aired a misleading reconstruction from the Morris tribunal that gave the impression a trusted garda aide to the inquiry had no interest in uncovering the truth.
Mr Justice Frederick Morris, tribunal chairman, agreed the broadcast was badly edited and created a deeply unpleasant impression of highly regarded liaison officer Chief Supt Terry McGinn.
In a brief address, counsel for the tribunal Peter Charleton SC said the reconstruction, aired on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, had left listeners with the feeling that she was unsupportive.
Chief Supt McGinn, who has liaised with dozens of officers since the tribunal began in 2002, has been praised in the past by Judge Morris for her work.
But Mr Charleton said the broadcast left the impression that the senior officer had no interest in assisting the tribunal or uncovering the truth.
He revealed if the reconstruction had carried on through the next few minutes of evidence it would have shown the high regard in which Chief Supt McGinn was held by gardaí and tribunal staff.
Judge Morris said: “There is no doubt that if the broadcast terminated at the point you (Mr Charleton) indicated it may well convey the entirely wrong impression of what the evidence was.
“Hopefully the record would be corrected and set right, because it would be quite wrong if anybody should be left with the idea that Chief Superintendent McGinn was not extremely helpful to the tribunal in the carrying out of its work.”
Mr Justice Morris added that it would be unfair to leave the public with the impression that she was not interested when Garda John Dooley came to her preparing to come clean about abuse meted out to mother-of-three Katrina Brolly.”
A second report, dated March 31, 2006, stated:
A deeply unfortunate and unpleasant impression was created on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the Garda liaison officer to the tribunal was not interested when a garda came to her wanting to tell the truth, the hearing was told.
The programme featured a re-enactment from the transcript of Tuesday’s evidence concerning Chief Supt Terry McGinn, who was Garda liaison officer to the tribunal, tribunal counsel Peter Charleton SC said.
She fulfilled that post with distinction for three years before being promoted to chief superintendent running the Donegal division, he said.
During the course of the reconstruction of evidence given by Det Garda John Dooley, a “deeply unfortunate and unpleasant impression has been created” concerning Chief Supt McGinn in the way it was edited.
The extract dealt with how Det Garda Dooley came to a position where he was determined to tell the truth.
It said the garda had said he had gone to then Supt McGinn but “I didn’t think she wanted to hear it, I was so upset at the time”. That was where the broadcast ended.
The transcript went on and said Det Garda Dooley said he very much received appropriate support from Chief Supt McGinn. She visited him regularly in hospital and told him to be honest and tell the truth. She contacted him regularly by phone and was extremely supportive.
Mr Charleton said all who had worked with Chief Supt McGinn had great respect for the assistance she had given to the tribunal and it would be unfair to her that listeners might think she just was not interested in the truth.
The chairman, Mr Justice Frederick Morris, said it might well convey an entirely wrong impression, so hopefully, the record might well be corrected and set right. It would be quite wrong if anybody was left with the idea that Chief Supt McGinn was not extremely helpful to the tribunal in its work.”
The Disclosures Tribunal did hear that Chief Supt McGinn acted as the Garda Liaison Officer at the Morris Tribunal.
But Garda Harrison claims there was no significant discussion or questioning about the nature of Chief Superintendent McGinn’s involvement with the Morris Tribunal and its legal team at the Disclosures Tribunal.
It’s also understood Garda Harrison, in his judicial review application, states he wasn’t interviewed by the tribunal’s investigators before he gave evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal – unlike other gardai who made protected disclosures.
Justice Seamus Noonan granted permission to bring the action yesterday, on an ex parte basis, and the matter will return before the courts in two weeks’ time.
Previously: ‘Entirely Without Any Validity’