Flanagan must publish Murray report after nearly 6 month delay

Seán Sherlock TD
03 October 2017

Labour Justice Spokesperson Sean Sherlock TD has called again for the immediate publication of the Murray Report by Justice Minister Flanagan once he has briefed Cabinet on it today. Former Chief Justice, John L. Murray submitted his report on the Review of the Law on the Retention of and Access to Communications Data to the Minister for Justice in April 2017.

Deputy Sherlock said:

“The review by former Chief Justice Murray was submitted his report in April 2017. For nearly six months it has been sitting on the Minister’s desk in the Department of Justice. We’ve had two different Ministers in that time and only today has the Minister brought it to Cabinet.

“Former Chief Justice Murray was commissioned in January 2016 to examine the law on access by law enforcement bodies to journalists’ communications data. GSOC had accessed the phone records of two journalists.

“The Murray report was received back in April. What we now need to see is the report published, not only as a matter of natural justice but in order to ensure public confidence in the inviolability of journalistic integrity.

“We cannot have a situation where journalists operating in a free democracy have their conversations or engagements with State agencies recorded surreptitiously.

“If bodies such as GSOC want to access a journalist’s phone record, a warrant should be a pre-requisite. Civil liberties are at stake here and the operation of a free press in this State.”

ENDS

PQ from Sean Sherlock to the Minister for Justice on 20th September.

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality when he received the Murray Report; and when he plans to publish it.

REPLY.
The former Chief Justice, Mr. John L. Murray, was commissioned in January 2016 to examine the legislative framework in respect of access by statutory bodies to communications data of journalists held by communications service providers, taking into account the principle of protection of journalistic sources; the need for statutory bodies with investigative and /or prosecution powers to have access to data in order to prevent and detect serious crime; and current best international practice in this area.

Mr. Justice Murray’s report sets out a very detailed and comprehensive analysis of the law in what is a complex and evolving area of law. On receipt of the report in April 2017 it was forwarded to the Attorney General for consideration and advice, against the background of recent findings in this area of the law by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Mr. Justice Murray has taken account of those findings in his review.

Detailed advice has been received and it is now being considered in the context of an ongoing assessment of the need for measures to address the findings of the Court of Justice. Following that, the report will be brought to the Government with a view to its publication.

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