Tribunal finds police acted 'unlawfully' in data case

Written by Andrew Whitaker on 9 August 2016 in News

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal finds that Police Scotland acted 'unlawfully' and behaved in a 'reckless' way in data case

credit - Ian Britton, Flickr

A judicial tribunal which investigated whether Police Scotland breached spying guidelines has said the force acted "unlawfully".

The investigatory Powers Tribunal looked at the cases of individuals whose data was accessed as the force tried to determine how information about a murder probe reached the press.

In its finding, the tribunal ordered a journalist whose communications were intercepted should be paid £10,000 in compensation.


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An independent inquiry into Police Scotland's actions has already been announced.

The Interception of Communications Commissioner ruled in November 2015 that officers had broken new spying regulations by obtaining communications data without permission on five occasions.

Officers had been attempting to find out how information about the investigation into the murder of Emma Caldwell in 2005 had appeared in the media.

Sir Stanley Burton, the commissioner, said the "failures" by police "could properly be seen as reckless".

This latest ruling from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) came after a hearing took place in Edinburgh last month.

Two former police officers, and their wives, together with two serving policemen, took the action against the force to "complain of the collateral interference with their privacy".

Gerard Gallacher, a former police officer who carried out an 18-month journalistic investigation into the case, is to be paid £10,000 after telling the tribunal he had suffered an "invasion of privacy, familial strife, personal stress and strain and loss of long-standing friendships" as a result of Police Scotland's actions.

The IPT ruled the interference with his rights to freedom of expression were "serious in respect of the obtaining of more than 32 days of communications data".

Of the six complainants, only Gallacher and his wife had been seeking compensation.



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