Northern Ireland

Tanning salon allegation police officer allowed to challenge dismissal

Image caption Sacked policeman Paul Laverty has won the right to challenge his dismissal

A Northern Ireland police officer sacked for allegedly spying on a woman in a tanning salon in the Republic of Ireland has been allowed to challenge his dismissal.

It was claimed that in 2010 Paul Laverty peered over a cubicle wall to view a female client at a salon.

Police in Donegal investigated, but no charge or prosecution were brought.

Details of the alleged incident were sent to the Police Service of Northern Ireland leading to his dismissal.

Misconduct proceedings were brought against Mr Laverty for allegedly failing to report a criminal investigation and he was dismissed from the force. After an appeal, the decision was upheld by a police appeals tribunal in September 2013.

Mr Laverty's lawyers mounted a wide-ranging legal challenge, claiming a breach of data protection and a violation of privacy rights.

Ruling on the initial stage of the case on Monday, the judge at the High Court in Belfast said: "The real issue is whether the provision of personal information by the Garda poisoned the subsequent investigation which the PSNI carried out."

He said that there was a case to answer over claims that the supply of those details rendered the process unlawful.

Although the judge granted permission for the sacked officer to seek a judicial review of the PSNI and the appeals tribunal, he said that no view was being taken on the final outcome.

A full hearing of the case is expected to take place next year.

Mr Laverty's application for reporting restrictions to protect his identity was rejected by the judge, who said: "There must be open justice unless there is good reason for the contrary."

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