Suspended garda seeks legal costs

A suspended garda sergeant, heavily criticised in the last three reports from the Morris Tribunal, today made an application to have his legal costs paid.

A suspended garda sergeant, heavily criticised in the last three reports from the Morris Tribunal, today made an application to have his legal costs paid.

Counsel for Det Sgt John White argued the garda should be entitled to his costs as he had fully co-operated with the tribunal.

“I would submit chairman, that the determination by the tribunal that it does not accept the evidence of a person before it, does not, it is respectfully submitted, equate with obstruction of the tribunal’s work,” John Whelan, SC for the detective sergeant, said.

“In the case of Det Sgt White it is submitted he has cooperated fully with the tribunal, both by delivering copious statements and evidence and furnishing it with all the documents in his control and with all the information in his knowledge or procurement, in relation to the matters into which the tribunal is enquiring.

“With regards to the evidence which he has given the tribunal has found he has not been truthful in everything that he has said. It is submitted however that no conclusive evidence has been adduced in the tribunal as proof positive that he has been untruthful in his evidence.”

The Morris Tribunal heard applications for costs in respect of a number of the witnesses involved in the Ardara Module, the Silver Bullet Module and the Burnfoot Module.

Det Sgt White was strongly criticised in all three of the tribunal reports published last August.

Justice Frederick Morris, tribunal chairman, found Det Sgt White had planted a sawn-off shotgun at a Traveller encampment in Burnfoot, Co Donegal in May 1998 and that he had lied to the tribunal.

In the report into an arson attack at the site of a television mast at Ardara, Co Donegal in November 1996, he was also implicated in the planting of a hoax device on the mast.

It was found Det Sgt White had made a number of serious allegations about his garda colleagues which were false.

Last July, Det Sgt White was acquitted of charges relating to the planting of a shotgun at the Traveller site in May 1998. He was acquitted last year of making false statements to gardaí and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Mr Whelan highlighted the acquittal of Det Sgt White in the two criminal trials in his application.

Mr Whelan said it was questionable if the tribunal would have covered the same ground if Det Sgt White had not had his legal representation. He said to deprive Det Sgt White of his costs would be to punish his legal team who have been involved in the tribunal for three years rather than the intended target of the Statute.

Justice Morris said he would rule on the applications in due course.

The tribunal also heard evidence from Det Sgt George Kyne, a member of the Carty team, who took a statement from Gda Tina Fowley in relation to discrepancies in interview notes.

Gda Fowley has told the tribunal she discovered an officer’s notes of interview of Roisín McConnell in relation to a murder probe were altered on the original record. She said she discovered discrepancies in relation the notes of Gda John Harkin in September 1997.

“We quizzed her about it because we wanted to know what the discrepancies were, but she was not in a position to tell us what the discrepancies were,” Det Sgt Kyne said.

“I don’t believe she knew what the problems were when she spoke with us,” he said. “She didn’t seem to have the information, and it was only subsequently when I examined it myself that I discovered the extra questions.”

The tribunal will resume with the evidence of Mark McConnell on Tuesday.

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