Charleton Tribunal: False sexual assault allegation error not notified to Garda HQ

Charleton Tribunal: False sexual assault allegation error not notified to Garda HQ

A senior garda officer has told the Charleton tribunal there were rumours circulating in Garda HQ about garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe while he worked there, reports Gerard Cunningham.

Det Supt Frank Walsh worked as private secretary to the commissioner until 2016, dealing with confidential reporting and protected disclosure.

DetSupt Frank Walsh
Det Supt Frank Walsh

"There were rumours circulating about Gda McCabe" Dept Supt Walsh said. "The rumour machine was in full flight around that time."

Det Supt Walsh said that a correspondence file from Sgt McCabe, who first wrote to the commissioner about issues with Garda management, eventually grew to about 3500 pages, although some of this was duplication.

A summary of Sgt McCabe’s career compiled by the human resources department was also part of the file.

In May 2014, a false allegation of sexual assault was wrongly added to the file. When the error came to light a few weeks later, it was not notified to Garda HQ.

Det Supt Walsh said that the incorrect allegation was still of Sgt McCabe’s correspondence file when he left the commissioner’s office in 2016, and he understood it remained there until the tribunal began in early 2017.

Breffni Gordon BL, barrister for Sgt McCabe, said it was "remarkable and bizarre" that there seemed to have been no discussions between senior officers after the false allegations about Sgt McCabe were added to the correspondence file.

Det Supt Walsh said he could not say if there were or were not any discussions with the Commissioner, only that none had taken place in his presence.

Earlier, retired assistant commissioner Kieran Kenny told the tribunal that he had not discussed the allegations with the Commissioner. The tribunal heard that he met with the Commissioner and Sgt McCabe on 7 August 2014, to address "workplace issues" Sgt McCabe was experiencing.

Retired assistant commissioner Kieran Kenny
Retired assistant commissioner Kieran Kenny

The tribunal also heard a forensic scientist testify that a document from an unrelated case, Ms Y, had been used as a template to create the Ms D notification.

Mark McConnell, Northern Ireland Forensic Service carried out a forensic examination of metadata in the electronic documents containing the Ms D and Ms Y allegations. Metadata in both files showed the time that the document was last printed was the same, on 5 June 2013.

Mr McConnell said the Y and D documents both showed the same "last printed" date of 5 June 2013, but the D document had a ’content created’ date of 9 August.

Mr Marrinan asked if this indicates to the witness that the D document was from a copy of the Y document. This showed the Ms Y document was used as a template to create the Ms D document, Mr McConnell said.

"That last printed time was carried across from the document from which it was copied," he said.

Mr McConnell said the documents "did not appear to have been interfered with anywhere."

The tribunal continues.

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