GSOC raised questions about independence of Guerin report

The garda ombudsman (GSOC) raised questions about the independence of the Guerin inquiry, and separately tried to get the probe to extend its timeframe to complete its work.

New documents reveal GSOC raised the independence of the inquiry with barrister Sean Guerin after he gave Enda Kenny’s officials a copy of a letter he sent to the ombudsman’s offices.

There has been criticism in recent days about the initial probe by barrister Sean Guerin into claims of garda malpractice after the larger O’Higgins inquiry last week contradicted several of his findings.

Former justice minister Alan Shatter, who resigned after critical findings by Mr Guerin, has accused the lawyer of “rushing to judgement” with his probe.

Questions have also been raised about why Mr Guerin copied Mr Kenny’s office when he told GSOC he would not read its files before finishing his report.

Freedom of Information documents obtained by the Irish Examiner reveal that lawyers for GSOC raised the independence of Mr Guerin’s inquiry with him.

GSOC lawyers also suggested he could extend the time period and asked him to refrain from completing the inquiry without meeting them or considering GSOC’s own files.

In a letter from firm Arthur Cox to Mr Guerin on April 25 — two weeks before the report was completed — the lawyers offered him a meeting with their client GSOC, adding: “In these circumstances, you might please confirm that you will not conclude your inquiry without having met us and considered documentation from GSOC, which we hope, subject to finding out further details regarding the inquiry’s document management can be made available to you in early course. In this regard we refer to your terms of reference which allows for an extension of time.”

GSOC lawyers also highlighted how Mr Guerin had copied the Department of the Taoiseach on a letter he sent to the garda ombudsman, where he declared that he would not have time to read its files before finishing his inquiry.

While the Department of the Taoiseach was the head department for the Guerin inquiry, its role was to provide administrative and financial support but not to have any insight into the workings of the probe.

Mr Shatter initially claimed the Guerin inquiry gave him no choice but to resign and that he also left so as not to “create any difficulties” for Fine Gael at the forthcoming local and European elections. Mr Shatter later claimed Mr Kenny “encouraged” him to resign.

GSOC lawyers raise the fact that Mr Guerin sent the same three-page letter to Mr Kenny’s officials as to them about not having time to read GSOC’s “voluminous documents”.

This was two weeks before the report was handed over to the Taoiseach’s office.

“Finally, we note that you have copied the Department of An Taoiseach with your letter of 25 April 2014. We understand from your terms of reference that your inquiry is an independent inquiry.

“For this reason, we have not copied the Department of An Taoiseach on our response as we are unclear as to their role in the inquiry,” it says.

Mr Shatter last week said in a letter to Mr Kenny that he wants the Guerin report withdrawn from circulation and the Dáil record also corrected.

He also reiterated his view that there was a “lack of fair procedure” in how that initial report was completed and that there were “reservations” about Mr Guerin “prematurely concluding his work” without considering GSOC’s documentation.

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