Criminal probe is launched into Charleton Tribunal issues
GARDAÍ are carrying out a criminal investigation into issues arising from the Charleton Tribunal, including an allegation made by the force’s former press officer, Dave Taylor, that he negatively briefed journalists about whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.
The disgraced superintendent, who retired from the Garda after he was officially informed he was being suspended from the organisation, was strongly criticised in the tribunal report. He is one of three members of the garda organisation at the centre of the investigation.
The tribunal found that Supt Taylor had been part of a campaign to smear Sgt McCabe.
In his damning report, chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton said he had the gravest difficulty in accepting his evidence as anything approximating to the truth.
In evidence to the tribunal, several journalists denied his claims they had been negatively briefed against Sgt McCabe by Supt Taylor.
This will now form part of the criminal investigation, which is being carried out by officers from the Garda’s national bureau of criminal investigation, led by Det-Supt Ken Keelan.
Evidence given to the tribunal cannot be used directly in any subsequent criminal investigation.
Officers must now contact those who gave evidence to the tribunal, and ask them to make a fresh witness statement.
Correspondence has already been sent out to a number of potential witnesses as gardaí prepare a file on their current examination of what they regard as potential criminal offences associated to the conduct of sworn and unsworn members of the force in relation to the tribunal.
Officers say these issues include the former superintendent’s allegation about negatively briefing the journalists and any other information deemed relevant.
Supt Taylor was initially transferred out of the press office to the Garda traffic section in Dublin.
But he lodged an application to retire 24 hours after he was told he was being suspended on the grounds that he had brought the organisation into disrepute and, by his actions, he had damaged public confidence in the force.
The move meant he would no longer be subject to disciplinary action and also protected his pension.
Since he had completed the 30 years’ service necessary to seek retirement, it would have been difficult for Garda authorities to refuse it in those circumstances.