And immediately after the judgment was handed down yesterday morning, independent TD Mick Wallace — about whom the minister disclosed information on RTÉ’s Prime Time — said it left the former minister “very open.”
Mr Wallace said it was significant that the court had taken on board the fact that what the minister did on the night on Prime Time was not in the public interest.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane said the Data Protection Commissioner found that the minister had breached the act by disclosing information regarding members of the gardaí using their discretion when he had been found using his mobile phone while driving.
The commissioner found that Mr Shatter had failed to uphold his statutory duties under the Data Protection Acts when he disclosed the information on Prime Time. Mr Shatter had claimed in his appeal to the Circuit Civil court that the commissioner had pre-determined the matter before he made his finding.
Dismissing Mr Shatter’s appeal and awarding costs against him, Judge Linnane said that in her view the commissioner had considered the matter fully and at length in the course of his investigation.
She said the commissioner had taken into account the arguments put forward by Mr Shatter; fair procedures had been followed and reasons given for the conclusion and decision reached.
“I do not consider that it has been shown that the decision made was vitiated by any serious or significant error or series of such errors… and I dismiss the appeal,” Judge Linnane said.
Judge Linnane said the complaint made to the commissioner by Mr Wallace was made against Mr Shatter in relation to Prime Time in which Mr Shatter had taken part in his capacity as minister.
It had not been disputed, she said, that Mr Shatter receive d the information about Mr Wallace as minister and all correspondence during the investigation had been sent to Mr Shatter in his capacity as minister and responded to from his ministerial address.
She said that in her view the objection regarding Mr Shatter not having proper standing to bring his appeal had been well founded as his actions at the time had been carried out in his capacity as minister for justice and on this ground alone she would have dismissed the appeal.
Mr Shatter was granted a stay on the issue of costs in the event of an appeal.