Trainee prison officer secures temporary court injunction restraining dismissal

Trainee Prison Officer Secures Temporary Court Injunction Restraining Dismissal
Eddie Campbell was the subject of disciplinary proceedings after bags allegedly containing traces of an illegal drug were found in a room he had occupied a week earlier in Portlaoise Prison. File photo: Collins
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High Court reporters

A trainee prison officer has secured a temporary High Court injunction restraining his dismissal from his employment over alleged serious misconduct.

The interim injunction was made in favour of Eddie Campbell who had been the subject of disciplinary proceedings after bags allegedly containing traces of an illegal drug were found in a room he had occupied a week earlier.


The court heard the Irish Prison Service has informed him that his employment is to be terminated later this month, arising out of findings made against him following internal disciplinary hearings conducted by the Irish Prison Service.

The allegations against him include that on a date in June 2022 three plastic bags, allegedly containing a powdery substance, were found in a room in a building used to house trainee prison officers at Portlaoise Prison that he had occupied several days previously.

He vehemently denies any wrongdoing and says that both the decision to dismiss him and the disciplinary process he underwent are unfair.

His lawyers say he has come to the High Court seeking orders "as a last resort" to challenge the disciplinary process, that was conducted in breach of fair and proper procedures.



The injunction was granted, on an ex-parte basis, against the Irish Prison Service, the Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General by Ms Justice Siobhan Stack on Friday afternoon.

The judge said that the threshold for granting such orders in employment cases was high.

However, the judge said that based on the evidence put before the court that threshold had been met by the applicant.

Seeking the order Mr Campbell, represented by Pearse Sreenan SC instructed by Frank Buttimer solicitors, said Mr Campell from Cappamore, Co Limerick, commenced working for the Irish Prison Service as a recruit prison officer on a 12-month probationary contract in April 2022.


Mr Campbell passed all his reviews without incident or complaint and is staunchly opposed to drug taking.

Counsel said that the disciplinary process his client underwent arising out of the discovery of the plastic bags is "full of inconsistencies" and procedural flaws.

One major flaw counsel said is that the plastic bags found in the room were never fingerprinted.

While the bags were sent to a forensic lab, and the matter reported to the gardaí, counsel said that his client is not facing any criminal charges and there is a high degree of uncertainty if traces of any illegal substances were found in the bags.


His client's offer to undergo drug testing has not been taken up by the prison service, counsel added.


Counsel said that the rooms his client and other trainees are housed in at Portlaoise are regularly inspected by the IPS and the corridors are monitored by round the clock CCTV.

His client had not been given the CCTV of the several days after the plaintiff left the room and the time when the bags were discovered by the authorities.

All Mr Campbell was told by the prison services was that the CCTV had been inspected by one of its officers, and that there was "nothing of interest there."


Counsel said his client would like to view the images himself.

All his client was furnished with are images around an eight-minute period when another trainee officer entered the room, when Mr Campbell was there.

There was also a lack of electronic records available to Mr Campbell concerning the use of the room following his departure from it or if the room was locked during that relevant period.

Counsel also said that there was a lack of written statements from other parties and witnesses in the disciplinary process, which he said was surprising.

In a sworn statement to the court Mr Campbell, who is aged in his mid-20s, said that he is hugely concerned about his reputation if he is dismissed.

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