Penalty points controversy to be probed by former Met commander

Penalty points controversy to be probed by former Met commander

THE man charged with investigating the penalty points’ controversy and allegations of corruption within the Gardai is a former MET police commander from Lewisham.

Simon O’Brien served in the London Metropolitan Police Force for more than 30-years before being appointed the office of the Garda Ombudsman in 2010.

Now the Londoner is at the centre of an enquiry sparked by two Garda whistleblowers who allege widespread malpractice with regards the process of penalty notices for road traffic offences.

In October, the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General – an independent body that monitors government spending – published a report that highlighted flaws in the penalty points system.

Following the findings Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and one of the whistleblowers, Sgt. Maurice McCabe were questioned separately by the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in respect of evidence provided by the serving garda –whose appearance to provide evidence against his own force was unprecedented in the history of the State.

The PAC’s involvement has spawned a fresh investigation, led by the Ombudsman, which was called by the Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

The Ombudsman’s investigation will focus on all cases where points have been terminated. It said its inquiries would be wide-ranging and that it would demand full co-operation from the Gardai.

In a previous interview with The Irish Post, Mr O’Brien highlighted unacceptable delays when his office had previously requested information from the Gardai.

However, Mr Shatter has confirmed that during its investigation the Ombudsman would have direct access to the Garda PULSE computer system, without having to operate through a garda seconded to the commission.

Senior Garda officers have expressed fears about allowing Ombudsman staff direct access to PULSE because the database contains intelligence about suspected criminals and terrorists which had been given in confidence.