Garda claims 'bullied and harassed' by senior officer

A senior member of the gardai who was based in Inishowen for many years 'bullied and victimised'a junior colleague because the garda chief was having an affair with his, now estranged, wife, a court hearing has been told.

Last week the State failed to halt an action by Kieran Jackson who claims that while a member of the Garda in Co Donegal, he was subjected to constant harassment, bullying and intimidation by Supt Kevin Lennon at Letterkenny and Ramelton stations in Co Donegal between 1993 and 2000.

Mr Lennon, who served for many years as a senior garda officer in Buncrana, was dismissed from the force some years ago as a result of the findings of the Morris tribunal into Garda corruption in Co Donegal.

Mr Jackson claims his estranged wife made a statement in 1993 alleging assault which was later withdrawn. He also alleges Mr Lennon was anxious to ensure a prosecution would take place and had harassed Mr Jackson in that regard.

As a result of the pressure to which Mr Lennon subjected him, Mr Jackson says he entered into a judicial separation agreement which was “highly disadvantageous” to his interests.

Mr Jackson was certified unfit for work in 2000 and was medically discharged from the Garda in August 2004.

He initiated civil proceedings against the Minister for Justice and the State in 2002 claiming damages over the alleged bullying, victimisation and harassment by Mr Lennon, who was joined by the State as a third party. A notice of intention to proceed with the case was served in late 2008.

The State defendants applied to the High Court last March for an order dismissing Mr Jackson’s case for want of prosecution. They argued the delay was inordinate and inexcusable and they could no longer be assured they would have the co-operation of certain retired garda as witnesses.

Mr Jackson argued that the case was difficult and complex and his solicitor had little option but to await the outcome of the final report of the Morris tribunal.

He said Mr Lennon was central to the tribunal’s investigation and it made serious adverse findings against him in October 2008.

Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne agreed that the five-year delay was inordinate and ruled the matters referred to by Mr Jackson did not excuse it. However, the balance of justice was against granting the State an order dismissing the case, she ruled. This case was more complex than an ordinary action for personal injuries and arose from alleged persistent and serious bullying of Mr Jackson while a garda.

The judge said she did not consider the delay had so prejudiced the State defendants in their defence of the case there was a real risk of an unfair trial.