A STATE solicitor has claimed some solicitors are acting as “criminal intelligence officers for criminal gangs”.
Michael Murray, the state solicitor for Limerick city, made his comments yesterday in support of the revised new Criminal Justice Act.
“One of the provisions will allow a judge to hear, in camera, applications in the absence of a prisoner and the prisoner’s legal team on reasons why that person should be further detained in the course of an investigation.
“This unusual piece of legislation was promoted by concern within certain official circles that a tiny minority of solicitors are harvesting information on operational matters and passing them on to the criminal fraternity and effectively acting as criminal intelligence officers for criminal gangs,” Mr Murray said. It was, however, emphasised that he was not referring to solicitors in any specific city or town.
A Garda source said last night there was “merit” in Mr Murray’s claims. He said gardaí interviewing suspects, under arrest, have matters repeated to them which they feel could only have come from legal people dealing with criminals.
Mr Murray, a brother of the Chief Justice John Murray, has come out strongly in support of the Criminal Justice (Amended) Act currently going through the Oireachtas which will give the authorities much broadened powers to tackle gangland crime.
Mr Murray, in comments last week, also said he was aware of jury intimidation by criminal elements who have organised themselves to defy the law. He said: “They started intimidating witnesses, they made life uncomfortable for jurors and the contract they had with the State, they tore up. Now the contract is being rewritten by the State on its terms and, I think, rightly so.”
Meanwhile, noted defence barrister Brian McInerney said if Mr Murray had evidence that any solicitor had engaged in criminal activity or improper professional conduct then “one would expect him to bring this evidence before the appropriate authority to be acted upon”.
Mr McInerney said: “By this, I mean the State prosecution authorities in the case of alleged criminal activity and if it is an alleged improper professional activity it should be brought before the appropriate professional body.”
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