Disclosures Tribunal: 'No evidence of any conspiracy or plan to harm Maurice McCabe'

Update 1.38pm: "A series of most unfortunate events" led to the circulation of a false rape allegation against garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe in 2013, lawyers for the Garda Commissioner have have told the Disclosures tribunal, writes Gerard Cunningham.

The tribunal is hearing closing submissions from legal teams in relation to its first module, where evidence was heard in July 2017.

That module set out to investigate the creation, distribution and use by TUSLA (formerly HSE) of a file containing false allegations of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe sent to Gardaí in 2013, and whether these false allegations and the file were knowingly used by senior garda officers to discredit Sgt McCabe.

A "cut and paste error" led to a more serious allegation being added to a report from Miss D after she sought counselling in 2013. Miss D had initially made a complaint against Sgt McCabe in 2006.

After a garda investigation the DPP decided that the allegation did not constitute an offence.

Tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton said this morning that a GSOC review of the original garda investigation had concluded it was a thorough inquiry. He said the investigation, headed by Garda Superintendent (then Inspector) Noel Cunningham "would be a very good example for teaching purposes of how to conduct an investigation of this kind."

Micheál P O'Higgins SC, counsel for the Garda Commissioner, said that HSE officials had acknowledged that the errors which were made in 2013 were theirs.

"This was a series of most unfortunate errors," Mr O'Higgins said. He said the errors were not garda errors, and garda officers took reasonable steps to correct the errors once discovered.

"Perhaps chaos theory was ruling, rather than any conspiracy," Mr O'Higgins said.

The barrister said there was "no evidence the false accusations were knowingly used by members of An Garda Síochána to discredit Sgt McCabe in any way."

Mr O'Higgins said that in appointing Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne and Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn to look into policing issues in the Cavan Monaghan division, the force made an appropriate and reasonable attempt to address Sgt McCabe's complaints.

Paul Anthony McDermott SC, on behalf of Tusla, said there was no evidence of any conspiracy or deliberate plan to cause harm to Sgt McCabe.

Mr McDermott said the agency wanted to apologise to those affected by the sequence of errors, and to apologise again in public to Sgt McCabe and his family. He said the agency was revising how it dealt with historic allegations.

Michael Cush SC, for the HSE, said there was "a terrible error", and when it was discovered HSE employees took steps to recover copies of the report which had been sent out, but unknown to them, a report has also been forwarded to An Garda Síochána.

Maurice McCabe.

Earlier: D family asked why sexual allegations against Maurice McCabe were being raised years later

The Chairman of the Disclosures Tribunal has asked counsel for the D family was there anything behind reviving allegations of sexual assault against Maurice McCabe in 2014.

The DPP had ruled in 2007 that even if there weren’t issues of credibility with Ms D’s account of events, what had occurred did not amount to sexual assault or even assault.

Peter Charleton asked counsel for the D family why the allegations were being raised again so many years later, including speaking to journalist Paul Williams.

Counsel for Ms D said she was concerned that Sgt McCabe was being portrayed in a glorified manner by certain sections of the media, and she thought there were different perspectives on matters.

- Digital Desk

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