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Who leaked bugging information to newspaper? Nobody knows but GSOC has stopped trying to find out

The Sunday Times journalist declined an invitation to cooperate with the inquiry.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Updated 11.20pm

A GSOC INQUIRY into how information about a security sweep ended up on the front page of the Sunday Times has been unable to identify who made the disclosure.

Mark Connaughton SC was asked to conduct a fact-finding investigation following this year’s bugging scandal.

On 9 February, the Sunday Times reported that a surveillance operation was used to hack into the emails, wi-fi system and phones at the Garda Ombudsman’s office.

What followed was months of debate, investigations, reports and eventually the resignation of the Justice Minister.

Eventually it was found that there was no evidence that the GSOC headquarters was bugged by the gardaí – or anybody else.

Justice John Cooke said in his concluding report in June that the evidence:

does not support the proposition that actual surveillance of the kind asserted in the Sunday Times article took place and much less that it was carried out by members of the Garda Síochána.

For this separate GSOC inquiry, the journalist who wrote that article, John Mooney, was invited to cooperate with the probe but the offer was declined.

The report, the findings of which were released today, looked to examine the facts of the events which led to the publication of his story.

During the probe, the information which appeared in the public domain was compared with all possible source documents, to establish what specific documents and data seemed to have been available to the journalist and what documents were not.

It also examined who may have had access to the documents containing information gleaned by the journalist, internally and externally.

Connaughton said he received the co-operation of all current and former GSOC staff, all of whom he interviewed.

The investigating Senior Counsel was also given access to email correspondence, photocopier logs, CCTV recordings, documentation pertaining to investigations and internal policies and procedures, as well as technical analysis of any mobile phones requested.

In a statement today, GSOC said that the report was “unable to establish individual responsibility for any disclosure, either on the part of an employee of GSOC or any other party”.

“It concludes that it is difficult to identify what additional information could usefully advance matters, short of obtaining the co-operation of the journalist in question, who declined the invitation.”

Although a copy will be given to the Minister for Justice, the report will not be published because it “contains personal data which is impossible to redact effectively”.

GSOC also said that it believes “proportionate measures” have been taken to find out what happened ahead of 9 February. It, therefore, has decided that there are no further “useful measures” to be found.

“In these circumstances, no further action is intended,” the statement continued.

First published 3.27pm

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