‘You were keen to hitch your wagon to Sgt McCabe’s train’

Garda re­jects ac­cu­sa­tion of try­ing to link penalty-points scan­dal to his own case

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By He­len Bruce he­len.bruce@dai­ly­mail.ie

WHISTLE­BLOWER garda Keith Har­ri­son has de­nied try­ing to link his work­place is­sues to those of Sergeant Mau­rice McCabe.

He told the Dis­clo­sures Tri­bunal he was his ‘own per­son’ who would make up his own mind, ‘and do things the way I see is best’.

Dur­ing a day of cross-ex­am­i­na­tion, Micheál O’Hig­gins SC, for the Garda Com­mis­sioner and the force, said to him: ‘You have cho­sen to in­ter­pret the rea­son­able ap­pli­ca­tion of dis­ci­pline in An Garda Síochána with an in­vented al­le­ga­tion of bul­ly­ing.’

The Dis­clo­sures Tri­bunal, chaired by Mr Jus­tice Peter Charleton, is ex­plor­ing Garda Har­ri­son’s claim that he was a vic­tim of a cam­paign of Garda in­tim­i­da­tion af­ter ar­rest­ing a fel­low of­fi­cer for drink driv­ing in Athlone in 2009.

He said he was tar­geted by se­nior Garda man­age­ment af­ter his move to Done­gal, who in­volved so­cial work­ers in his fam­ily life af­ter ‘un­true’ al­le­ga­tions of do­mes­tic abuse were made against him.

Mr O’Hig­gins noted that in 2014, Sgt McCabe was ‘all over the me­dia’ for his whistle­blow­ing con­cern­ing penalty points.

He said: ‘You were keen to hitch your wagon to Sgt McCabe’s train, would that be fair?’ Garda Har­ri­son replied: ‘No.’ He was asked why he and his so­lic­i­tor had given tele­vi­sion and radio in­ter­views, and writ­ten to Chil­dren’s Min­is­ter Kather­ine Zap­pone, if not to have his case in­cluded in a tri­bunal.

‘Are you sug­gest­ing I did this just to get onto tele­vi­sion?’ the garda re­sponded.

Mr O’Hig­gins said Garda Har­ri­son was an­gry that his com­plaints had been ig­nored by the Garda Com­mis­sioner and the Jus­tice Min­is­ter.

‘When did the light­bulb go off in your mind that you were a Mau­rice McCabe, who was some­what con­fused that Tusla had ar­rived at your door?’ coun­sel asked.

The wit­ness replied: ‘I don’t see my­self as Mau­rice McCabe. I am Keith Har­ri­son, I am my own per­son. I make up my own mind and do things the way I see is best.’

Mr O’Hig­gins asked if he had pres­surised his part­ner, Marissa Simms, to co-or­di­nate her story with his, and also asked him to ex­plain his ap­par­ent threats to burn her and bury her sis­ter as a fig­ure of speech.

He said Garda Har­ri­son had put his part­ner into an ‘im­pos­si­ble po­si­tion’ with a ‘ridicu­lous story’.

‘Ab­so­lutely not,’ replied the garda.

Ear­lier, the tri­bunal heard that the garda could have re­solved his is­sues with child and fam­ily agency Tusla for the price of a stamp.

Garda Har­ri­son agreed that he never wrote to, or con­tacted, Tusla about his con­cerns that se­nior gar­daí had in­volved the agency in his fam­ily life.

Paul An­thony McDer­mott SC, for Tusla, said: ‘Con­sider the cost of a tri­bunal of in­quiry, which can cost mil­lions, ver­sus the cost of a postage stamp.’

Garda Har­ri­son replied: ‘With re­spect, in Fe­bru­ary 2014 I could never have thought that I’d be talk­ing about var­i­ous in­ti­mate details of my fam­ily life.’

He agreed he had re­ceived a let­ter from Tusla, fol­low­ing a home visit, in which the agency stated that all was well with the fam­ily.

Tusla’s case, which be­gan with a Garda re­fer­ral fol­low­ing a do­mes­tic row in­volv­ing Garda Har­ri­son and his part­ner Marissa Simms, part of which was al­legedly wit­nessed by her two chil­dren, was then closed.

Garda Har­ri­son told the tri­bunal that he be­lieved gar­daí leaned on Tusla to in­ter­vene in his fam­ily life for ma­li­cious rea­sons. Mr McDer­mott said the al­le­ga­tion was in­cor­rect and did not stand up to scru­tiny. Gar­daí also dis­pute the al­le­ga­tion.

Garda Har­ri­son in­sisted that he was in no doubt that Tusla was ma­nip­u­lated. He said it was no co­in­ci­dence that a so­cial worker vis­ited their home in Fe­bru­ary 2014, shortly af­ter his part­ner, Ms Simms, with­drew a state­ment made against him.

He said it was un­usual that there was a gap of three months be­tween the com­plaint and the visit. Mr McDer­mott said Garda Har­ri­son had sought to por­tray Tusla’s visit as an abuse of power. But he said records showed Garda Har­ri­son un­der­stood per­fectly well what the con­cerns were and he suc­cess­fully en­gaged with them.

The tri­bunal has pre­vi­ously

‘I make up my own mind’ ‘Pulse is sim­i­lar to a so­cial me­dia site’

heard that Garda Har­ri­son checked his part­ner’s record on the Pulse com­puter sys­tem 23 times be­tween 2008 and 2012.

Mr O’Hig­gins said yes­ter­day that this was ‘some­what ob­ses­sive’.

Garda Har­ri­son said: ‘Pulse is sim­i­lar to a so­cial me­dia site.’

He ad­mit­ted check­ing Pulse sev­eral times in 2008, when he and Ms Simms were in contact, but be­fore they be­gan a re­la­tion­ship.

‘I may have looked out of cu­rios­ity, no other rea­son,’ he said. He in­sisted that the prac­tice of gar­daí check­ing Pulse with­out a valid rea­son was ‘wide­spread’ at the time, but that it was now be­ing clamped down on.

Judge Charleton said he had un­der­stood Garda Har­ri­son’s case to be that his checks on Ms Simms, af­ter they be­gan their re­la­tion­ship in 2011, were be­cause he be­lieved the cou­ple were un­der sur­veil­lance. He asked why Garda Har­ri­son had thought this.

He replied: ‘I had raised se­ri­ous is­sues in the West­meath divi­sion. Af­ter that I be­lieved I was be­ing mon­i­tored.’

He said there was ‘al­ways a fear’ that gar­daí would dis­cover that Ms Simms was the sis­ter of a man who had killed a young Bun­crana garda in a col­li­sion fol­low­ing a high-speed car chase.

‘My sus­pi­cion was that we were be­ing watched,’ he said.

He told the tri­bunal his part­ner had never wanted in­volve­ment with a Garda Síochána Om­buds­man Com­mis­sion or HSE in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and had only made a Garda state­ment of com­plaint against him in Oc­to­ber 2013 af­ter a three-hour ‘chat’ with gar­daí.

Tes­ti­mony: Garda Keith Har­ri­son and his part­ner Marissa Simms

Whistle­blower: Sergeant Mau­rice McCabe

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.