Charleton ‘smear’ inquiry to start with Tusla hearing

The Disclosure Tribunal begins its hearings tomorrow with the untangling of how false sexual allegations against Sergeant Maurice McCabe were recorded, transmitted, investigated and managed within the child protection services.

In its first tranche of investigations, the tribunal will also try and establish whether or not senior gardaí used these files as part of an alleged campaign to discredit the whistleblower.

The tribunal – chaired by Mr Justice Peter Charleton – has broken up its terms of reference into five sections, the first dealing with issues concerning Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

The task under reference d states: “To investigate the creation, distribution and use by Tusla of a file containing false allegations of sexual abuse against Sergeant Maurice McCabe that was allegedly sent to Gardai in 2013, and whether these false allegations and/or the file were knowingly used by senior members of An Garda Siochana to discredit Sergeant McCabe.”

A witness schedule for the next two weeks has been published.

In his opening statement on June 14, tribunal barrister Diarmuid McGuinness SC said allegations made against Sgt McCabe lay the “foundation” of other aspects of the tribunal’s work.

In July 2013, a woman undergoing counselling referred to a past allegation of sexual assault against Sgt McCabe, in which the DPP had ruled no prosecution.

The counsellor used a template from a previous case to fill in the woman’s allegations but did not delete the details of that previous case – which contained far more serious allegations of digital penetration.

Mr McGuinness said: “It may be that the inclusion of this allegation was a genuine mistake made initially by Rian counsellor Laura Brophy, which was compounded and repeated by a series of further errors and omissions on the part of Tusla personnel despite her best attempts to rectify this; or it may be that there was a deliberate attempt to keep matters live at a time when Sergeant McCabe was a household name, and that the ongoing pursuit of this matter by state agencies was part of the overall aim of discrediting Sergeant McCabe and destroying his reputation.

“It should be noted that this latter possibility has been canvassed with all the Tusla witnesses involved to date and no knowledge or evidence of such seems to have emerged to date.”

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