None of the journalists whom former Garda press officer Supt David Taylor says were told lies in an effort to discredit whistleblower Maurice McCabe have backed up those claims.
Supt Taylor has also agreed there are no phone records to support his claim that he was instructed by Garda management to orchestrate a media campaign to destroy Sgt McCabe.
Supt Taylor said he sent hundreds of text messages to then garda commissioner Martin Callinan to update him whenever Sgt McCabe was mentioned in the media but they would only show the intense interest the commissioner had in Sgt McCabe and would not contain any orders which were oral.
The messages are not available because they were on an old phone. Supt Taylor said he thought all the data was transferred to his new phone or that they were “in the cloud” somewhere but this appeared not to be the case. The old phone had been given to charity.
Supt Taylor, in his first day before the Disclosures Tribunal, came under sustained pressure to provide evidence to support a protected disclosure he made in September 2016 in which he stated:
He said he was instructed to discredit Sgt McCabe because Mr Callinan was “frustrated” and “infuriated” that Sgt McCabe’s revelations about the penalty points issue and other problems in the force would not go away, and also because he had been revealed in the media as one of the people who had penalty points quashed.
Supt Taylor named nine journalists as people who he briefed negatively about Sgt McCabe, telling them that his whistleblowing was motivated by revenge because he had been investigated for child abuse. An allegation was made against him some years earlier but it was found to have no substance.
The tribunal heard that four of the named journalists had given statements saying they were never briefed negatively by Supt Taylor about Sgt McCabe while the others were claiming journalistic privilege.
Supt Taylor stood over his claims — and he added two more names to the list — but he could not offer exact dates or situations where he briefed journalists.
Tribunal chairman Judge Peter Charleton urged him to try to “relive” the occasions using any detail he might remember.
“Was there any reaction to the explosive news that the man who is a national hero is actually a child abuser?” he asked.
Supt Taylor said he did not expect a particular reaction.
“Journalists do not shock or wither very easily,” he said.
Asked if he had ever questioned the instructions he was allegedly given by Mr Callinan, he said: “The garda commissioner gives a direct order, you act on it.”
Mr Callinan resigned in 2014 as a result of the various controversies and Supt Taylor was moved to traffic. Asked why he waited until late 2016 to make his disclosure, he pointed that he was under suspension at the time — for disciplinary matters subsequently dismissed.
“I had been away from the hothouse and the influence of An Garda Síochána so I could see in a clearer light things that I did not see and did not appreciate when I was part of the force.”
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