McGuinness v Commissioner of an Garda Síochána

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr. Justice David Keane
Judgment Date28 October 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] IEHC 591
Docket Number[2014 No. 7727P]
CourtHigh Court
Date28 October 2016
BETWEEN
FRANCIS McGUINNESS
PLAINTIFF
and
THE COMMISSIONER OF AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA,
IRELAND

and

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
DEFENDANTS

[2016] IEHC 591

[2014 No. 7727P]

THE HIGH COURT

Crime & Sentencing – Basis for search warrant – Assertion of informant privilege – Weight assigned to competing interest – Associated risks

Facts: The plaintiff sought an order compelling the first named defendant to provide the copy of the relevant document that formed the basis of grounding the successful application before the District Court in order to procure a search warrant for the plaintiff's premises. The first named defendant had asserted privilege in relation to that document as it argued that the disclosure of that document could endanger the life of the informant giving that information.

Mr. Justice David Keane dismissed the plaintiff's application. The Court held that it had to exercise extreme care to decide whether it should allow the disclosure of the relevant document against public interest or let it remain confidential. The Court after rejecting the possibility of providing the redacted document held that documents that were material to an ongoing criminal investigation by a member of the first named defendant need not be disclosed in civil proceedings as it would put a risk to the life of the informant.

RULING of Mr. Justice David Keane delivered on the 28th of October 2016
Mr. Justice David Keane
Introduction
1

On the 7th October last, I gave judgment in the present application, in which the plaintiff seeks an order compelling the Garda Commissioner to furnish him with a copy of the sworn information grounding the successful application that was made to the District Court on the 21st August 2014 for a warrant to search the plaintiff's premises at Hillcrest, Cloghran, County Dublin.

2

In opposition to that application, the State defendants assert a claim of privilege against the inspection of that document, either in whole or in significant part, as covered by informant privilege or the public interest privilege associated with the investigation of crime, or both.

3

Having considered the evidence in, and the legal submissions of the parties on, the application, and bearing in mind the obligation of the Court to decide which interest should prevail where a conflict arises between the public interest in, on the one hand, the production of evidence and, on the other, the investigation of crime and...

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