The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) has opened a public interest investigation into the prosecution of a brother and sister for allegedly producing false sick notes.
The investigation follows an unprecedented referral from the Policing Authority to Gsoc on foot of concerns about media reports of the case of Lynn and Tony Margiotta. This is the first time the authority has used its power to refer a matter to Gsoc for a public interest investigation.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was repeatedly asked about the matter at private Policing Authority meetings between March and May this year, before the Authority decided a full investigation was required.
Civilian Garda employee Lynn Margiotta was arrested in August 2014 over allegedly producing false sick notes.
Three weeks previously, she had begun making a formal complaint of bullying against a sworn member in the Dublin garda station where she worked. She has always maintained that the prosecution was directly related to her complaint.
The trial of the siblings at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court collapsed in March following a ruling that Ms Margiotta’s rights had been breached in the investigation.
In a letter to Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins, the chief executive of the Policing Authority, Helen Hall, confirmed the matter was being investigated. She noted it was raised with the commissioner after a report that the trial had collapsed.
“There were further discussions with him regarding this matter at the Authority meetings on 18 April and May 24, 2019,” said Ms Hall. “As the Policing Authority had a number of residual questions arising from information in the public domain and it has no statutory investigate or enquiry powers, it decided at its most recent meeting on 6 June, 2019 to refer the entire matter to the Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission.”
Lynn Margiotta welcomed the development, but said it was coming late in the day.
“My family have lived with this for nearly five years now,” she told the Irish Examiner. “For most of that time I wasn’t even paid my wages from my employer.”
Mr Collins said the circumstances of the case were very disturbing.
“The information now in the public domain following the collapsed trial fundamentally undermines confidence in An Garda Siochána,” he said. “I welcome the fact that Gsoc has opened an investigation in the public interest, having previously raised this matter in Dáil Éireann with the Minister for Justice.”