Lynn Margiotta calls for full inquiry into sick notes case

The civilian Garda employee who was prosecuted over sick notes has called for a full inquiry into how she and her GP brother were investigated and brought to court.

Lynn Margiotta has also called on Garda commissioner Drew Harris to clarify evidence he gave to the public accounts committee about the case.

Mr Harris wrote to the PAC on Monday to clarify evidence he gave on May 9 about Ms Margiotta’s case. The commissioner had told PAC member David Cullinane that there was a Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) inquiry into the matter.

In his letter to the committee, Mr Harris stated he had been “of the mistaken belief that Gsoc was currently investigating matters in the public domain”.

He apologised for the error and assured the committee that “there was no intention to mislead the committee”. However, Ms Margiotta has said the commissioner’s letter does not go far enough in addressing some aspects of his evidence that reflected on her.

The trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of Ms Margiotta and her GP brother Tony collapsed in March when the judge ruled her rights had been abused. The siblings believe the whole case was motivated by a bullying complaint.

Ms Margiotta made the complaint against a Garda member three weeks before she was arrested in 2014. Mr Harris told the PAC that no record of a bullying complaint could be found.

Ms Margiotta insists she had made a complaint and procedures in dealing with it had been started. “I made the complaint verbally and I followed procedure after that,” she said.

“There was to be a meeting on mediation but a garda involved went on holiday and before a meeting could take place I was arrested. The commissioner should clarify what he meant by no record of it.”

Ms Margiotta also said the commissioner needs to explain why he told the committee that the investigation into her and her brother was “well founded” and had been through the DPP’s office.

“What is he basing that on? He should certainly tell us. As for a decision made by an independent body, was the DPP in full possession of the facts?

There needs to be a full inquiry into the whole thing after the four-year ordeal we were put through.

The Irish Examiner reported on Monday that an expert opinion commissioned by the gardaí and favourable to Dr Margiotta was not in the book of evidence for the case. Ms Margiotta was first arrested in August 2014 for producing alleged “fake sick notes”.

She had been absent from work on a number of occasions following the death of her mother in January 2014. Her trial in March this year heard that gardaí didn’t dispute that she was suffering from a condition at the time but that that was irrelevant to the charges.

Dr Margiotta freely admitted he provided his sister with sick notes because she was unwell. The Garda case was largely based on the use by Dr Margiotta of another doctor’s stamp on the sick notes.

However, an academic in general practice told the gardaí that locums often use another doctor’s stamp and the area was unregulated. This report, by UCC Professor Colin Bradley, was not given to the defence when the DPP was offering a verdict of guilty to a summary offence.

The Policing Authority has also requested further information from the commissioner after the matter was raised at the last two monthly meetings with Mr Harris.

PAC member David Cullinane welcomed the commissioner’s letter of clarification but expressed concern there was no explanation over whether there was a bullying complaint.

He said: “Commissioner Harris, it appears, is sticking to his line that there is no record of a bullying compliant and I will be seeking further correspondence from the commissioner on this issue at the next meeting of the PAC.”

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