Call for inquiry into Garda sick notes probe

The solicitor for a civilian Garda employee who was the subject of a criminal investigation over the production of sick notes at work has called for a “full and impartial” inquiry.

The trial of Lynn Margiotta and her brother, Tony Margiotta, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court collapsed last month after a judge ruled her rights have been abused.

Ms Margiotta had been accused on over a dozen occasions of using a “false instrument” in 2014, and her brother with making a false instrument.

The prosecution case was that Dr Margiotta had provided his sister with medical certs to say she was not fit for work. The gardaí did not dispute that she was unwell at the time, but claimed the medical certs were obtained by deception.

The certs were signed by Dr Margiotta, but bore the stamp of other doctors who worked or had worked in the practice where he was working. The trial heard that an expert had given an opinion that locum doctors using the stamp of another doctor in a practice is not unusual.

Ms Margiotta was first arrested in August 2014; the case took four and a half years to reach trial. Three weeks before her arrest, she had made a complaint of bullying against a Garda member.

Ms Margiotta’s solicitor, Yvonne Bambury, said the case was unprecedented.

“The circumstances of the case warrant a full and impartial inquiry,” she said.

“These were unprecedented circumstances and it is disturbing that somebody can be investigated by colleagues and treated in a criminal fashion for something that was a HR issue.”

Among the unusual features in the case were:

  • Ms Margiotta was investigated for an alleged crime by her employer rather than being referred to human resources about any issue concerned with sick notes;
  • The investigating gardaí did not ask for permission to access the sick notes which contained private medical details;
  • Ms Margiotta was arrested early in the investigation without any notice;
  • The investigating gardaí were all based in the same station where she had worked without incident for the previous 14 years;
  • The judge at the trial ruled she was denied access to a solicitor while in custody;
  • She was arrested a second time over a year later and presented with “evidence” that should have been available to the gardaí at the time of her first arrest;
  • She has not been contacted by her employer, An Garda Síochána, since her first arrest;
  • She was never informed whether the bullying complaint was dealt with.

“The whole thing had a huge impact on my family, including my 91-year-old father,” Ms Margiotta told the Irish Examiner.

“I would like somebody to be held accountable. There should be an inquiry as to why this happened, why it went on for four and a half years, and how it actually ended up in court.”

A number of questions about the case submitted to the Garda Press Office last Wednesday had not received any reply by last night.

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