KRW LAW LLP represents a number of serving and former prisoners in the Republic of Ireland.
The issue of client lawyer privilege and surveillance by the police in prisons in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland has always been contentious.
Lawyers and their clients must be able to discuss legal issues in private and without the actual or perceived threat of being monitored by the authorities.
It has now been announced that the Inspector of Prisons, Patricia Gilheaney, has been instructed to carry out an “urgent” investigation into allegations that private conversations between solicitors and prisoners were covertly monitored by Gardaí.
Under the terms of the statutory investigation, the Irish Justice Minister will retain the power to omit any matter from any report where he is of opinion that its disclosure may be prejudicial to security, contrary to the public interest, or may infringe the constitutional rights of any person.
It is important that both the Data Protection Commission and the Complaints Referee consider using their powers under the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009to work with the Inspector to ascertain the facts as to whether any authorization was granted for the surveillance alleged and, if so, whether it was carried out in contravention of the Act.
KRW LAW LLP will be considering a legal challenge against the Gardaí if there is any evidence that either authorization was not sought or there has been any human rights violation including the right to private life.