GSOC ended 2014 in deficit due to external legal costs
The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) spent €675,205 obtaining legal advice in 2014, according to figures provided to the Oireachtas.
The figure represents a massive increase from the €142,112 spent on external costs in 2013 and saw GSOC end 2014 with an overall budget deficit of €382,693.
Its 2014 annual report said that the deficit “relates, almost exclusively, to the unanticipated cost of external legal services, principally as a result of the publication of an article concerning a GSOC investigation in a Sunday newspaper in February 2014”.
The services include advice sought in relation to the non-statutory inquiry by Mr Justice John Cooke into allegations that the commission’s Dublin headquarters had been bugged by gardaí.
The commission also sought legal advice in relation to an internal inquiry by Mark Connaughton SC into an alleged media leak of the commission’s bugging suspicions.
Costs were also incurred by advice related to the non-statutory inquiry conducted by Mr Seán Guerin SC into matters related to Garda whistleblwoing allegations.
Mr Justice Cooke’s inquiry found that there was no evidence that the commission’s headquarters had been bugged.
Mr Connaughton SC’s investigation did not locate the source of the alleged media leak, but established that a journalist who covered the story for a Sunday newspaper did not have a copy of a confidential internal report.
The report continues: “GSOC received confirmation from the Department of Justice and Equality that additional funding would be made available to cover the unanticipated costs incurred.”