Gsoc’s Audio Access Denied: Unraveling the Gardaí’s Courtroom ‘Melee’

“Controversial Use of Covert Audio Recordings in Court Raises Concerns, Application Rejected by Court of Appeal”

In a recent court ruling, Mr Justice John Edwards rejected an application by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) to access “ambient recordings” from a court session. The Court of Appeal expressed concerns over the use of such recordings, which could be seen as covert audio recordings of gardaí and others present in court. The case revolves around Simeon Burke, who was arrested earlier this year for disruptive behavior during a judgment in his brother’s case. Burke and his sister have filed complaints against the gardaí for their treatment during the hearing.

The purpose of the ambient system is to record proceedings in case the main digital audio recording (DAR) system is not turned on. Mr Justice Edwards explained that the ambient system may have recorded conversations after the court had adjourned, when the DAR system would have been switched off. However, the judge refused the application, citing concerns over data protection rights and jurisdiction over the recordings.

Mr Justice Edwards suggested that the Courts Service, rather than the court itself, may be the appropriate data controller for the recordings. He also stated that if Gsoc wishes to pursue the application, the Courts Service and the Data Protection Commissioner should be made parties to the proceedings. Additionally, the judge raised concerns about the appropriateness of the application, as it involves the court getting involved in an ongoing investigation by Gsoc.

There are further concerns regarding the use of recordings on the ambient system, particularly the fact that individuals may be unaware of its existence. This could be seen as covert audio recording of gardaí and others present in court, including the Burkes. Enoch Burke, the brother whose case sparked the incident, objects to the ambient recordings being made available to investigators.

While Mr Justice Edwards did not make any findings, he acknowledged the potential arguments that could be made. He stated that if Gsoc wishes to renew their application, they must first provide evidence that the ambient system was actually recording at the time. The matter has been adjourned to October 6 to allow all parties to consider the judge’s comments.

It is worth noting that the Gardaí are also conducting their own investigation into the incident and had previously sought access to the same recordings requested by Gsoc. The Court of Appeal rejected the Gardaí’s application but did make available the DAR recordings from when the court was in session.

In other news, on this day in history, July 21st…