herald

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Garda fights probe into alleged lesbian taunt at city station

A GARDA sergeant who allegedly put a sign saying 'FAG1' on a female colleague's car is trying to stop an internal investigation against him over alleged homophobic treatment.

The investigation against Sgt Paul Fanning, of Cabra Garda Station in Dublin, arises from a complaint made by Garda Emma Corcoran on grounds of sexual orientation, the High Court heard.

It was alleged that in May 2008 he placed a paper sign that read 'FAG1' in front of a number plate of her car. It was also claimed he asked her if she had enjoyed searching a woman prisoner and that he sent inappropriate messages to her on the command and control system.

Sgt Fanning claims an investigation into the allegation against him is flawed. He also claims there was a delay in investigating the matter. In his action against the Garda Commissioner, Sgt Fanning is seeking orders quashing the decision to investigate the complaints. He is also seeking orders preventing the use of any statements taken during the course of a previous investigation from being used in any current or future investigations into the complaints made by Garda Corcoran.





Investigate

He also claims the decision to investigate him is a breach of fair procedures and his rights to natural justice. The Commissioner denies acting wrongly and says he has a duty to investigate the allegations.

On the opening day of the case yesterday, the court heard the investigation, under garda disciplinary

procedures, began after Garda Corcoran made a complaint in June 2008 when they were both stationed at Ballyfermot Garda Station.

That investigation was stopped in February 2009 when Sgt Fanning brought High Court proceedings which were settled.

However a new investigation was initiated under the garda policy on harassment, sexual harassment and bullying. Lawyers for Sgt Fanning claim that, according to the terms of that policy, any investigation must be completed within 28 days.

That time period began on the date the judicial review proceedings ended, but the second investigation did not start until mid-May 2009. It is further submitted that the new investigation contains contents of statements taken during the first investigation.

It is claimed that any witness statements included in the investigation should have been taken as the matter had been started from the start.





Superiors

Sgt Fanning claims it was not until late April 2009 that he was informed that there were additional complaints made against him by Garda Corcoran.

In his affidavit Sgt Fanning said Garda Corcoran was under his direct supervision at Ballyfermot. He said he had made unfavourable reports about her performance to his superiors. However in June 2008 he was informed that Garda Corcoran had made a complaint of a very serious nature against him.

The hearing continues.

hnews@herald.ie

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