Garda memo lands reporter in court

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The Independent Online
A Dublin journalist who uncovered a confidential garda memo showing detectives knew in advance of plans to carry out Ireland's biggest ever robbery last January yesterday appeared before Dublin District Court charged with breaching Ireland's Official Secrets Act.

Liz Allen, a freelance crime reporter, wrote two reports in the Irish Independent last January which revealed a memo had been sent to garda stations alerting officers to named suspects in an anticipated armed raid on a cash-in-transit target.

The memo was sent several days before the robbery at the Brinks-Allied depot in Clonshaugh, north Dublin.

Judge David Riordan, presiding, heard Garda witnesses testify that nine copies of the intelligence report were sent on 22 January to stations in the Dublin north central division. It and six photographs appeared in the newspaper on 27 January under the front-page headline "pounds 3m robbery fiasco: gardai were alerted".

After a garda investigation only seven of the copies were later recovered from local stations. Gardai visited the newspaper on two occasions in the immediate aftermath but failed to recover the document.

Mr Kevin Haugh SC, prosecuting, said the memo was clearly covered under the terms of the Act because it contained "criminal intelligence of a secret and confidential sort".

The publishers, Independent Newspapers, who are also defendents, could not have had legal possession of the document because the company was not a public body. The hearing was adjourned until Friday, when a number if Irish TDs (MPs) will be called to give evidence.