Garda Commissioner Drew Harris
On Thursday, May 9 last, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris appeared before the Public Accounts Committee.
During his appearance, he was asked about the case of female civilian guard Lynn Margiotta.
Ms Margiotta is seeking an inquiry into how she was treated by her employer after she made a verbal complaint of bullying against a Garda member.
Michael Clifford, in The Irish Examiner, has previously reported how Lynn Margiotta and her brother Dr Tony Margiotta ended up before a judge in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in March over sick notes she produced to her employer – An Garda Síochána – saying she was unfit to work.
Ms Margiotta was arrested at her home in Navan, Co Meath, by three gardai from her own station, Store Street Garda Station, on August 11, 2014 – three weeks after she made the bullying complaint.
She was told she was under arrest for fraud.
It had been the prosecution’s case that Ms Margiotta had obtained the sick notes by deception as Dr Tony Margiotta had used the stamp of other GPs on the sick notes.
However, almost five years later, the case against Ms Margiotta collapsed on March 26, 2019, after Judge Patricia Ryan ruled her rights had been abused as she had been denied access to a solicitor while in custody, and her privacy breached as her medical records had been accessed without her consent.
The case against her brother Dr Margiotta – who worked between two practices in 2014 and was a locum in one of the practices – was also dropped.
Today, Mr Clifford, in The Irish Examiner, reports that early on in the Garda investigation, an expert in GP stamps, Professor Colin Bradley, of University College Cork, carried out a report on the matter for the gardaí.
This report was completed on February 8, 2015 and outlined there was no requirement for doctors to use their own stamp and, furthermore, locums are likely to use stamps of other doctors.
Despite this, Lynn Margiotta was arrested a second time in September 2015, while her and her brother were arrested at their homes without notice in June 2017, and charged.
On February 6, 2019, the siblings’ solicitors obtained the Bradley report during the discovery process for their trial – after they chose to contest the charges and the matter was elevated to the Circuit Criminal Court [the DPP had agreed to allow the matter be dealt with in the District Court had they pleaded guilty].
Further to this…
Mr Clifford reports this morning:
In evidence at the PAC on May 9, Mr Harris said there was no record of a bullying complaint in the case.
“None can be found,” he told David Cullinane TD.
However, the Irish Examiner has learned that Ms Margiotta did make a verbal complaint, setting in train a process that would lead to a formal written complaint.
As per public sector policy, there was due to be a meeting to attempt mediation in the issue, but before the meeting could take place, she was arrested over the alleged false sick notes.
This information was conveyed to the Garda Press Office on Monday, for a response in relation to Mr Harris’ evidence, but no response was given.
Separately, the commissioner also appeared to give the PAC the impression that the case was being investigated by the Garda Ombudsman (Gsoc).
Mr Cullinane asked the commissioner if he was of a mind to “personally examine the elements of the case that are in the public domain”.
The commissioner responded: “That is also the subject of a public complaint to Gsoc. The material we are putting together is for its information and I have to wait for it to make its recommendations.”
According to a spokesperson, Gsoc is not currently investigating any aspect of the case that it understands was being referred to at the PAC.
In response to a question on this matter, the Garda Press Office replied that the commissioner was referring to a complaint from 2016.
In fact, the 2016 complaint, a copy of which has been seen by the Irish Examiner, referred to leaks to the media about Ms Margiotta’s arrest.
This was completed without resolution by Gsoc in November 2017.
Garda Commissioner’s evidence over prosecution of civilian employee raises questions (Michael Clifford, The Irish Examiner)
Garda boss Harris risks walking into a seamy mess over civilian prosecution case (Michael Clifford, The Irish Examiner)
Previously: Malingering Odours