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NUJ welcomes investigation of data breaches at INM

5 September 2018

The NUJ has welcomed the intervention by Judge Peter Kelly to send court inspectors to Independent News & Media (INM) to investigate a suspected data breach.

The president of Ireland's high court said: “The appointment of inspectors to ascertain the truth of what has allegedly gone on is well-justified and is not disproportionate.” He was deciding an application by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement  for court inspectors to investigate a range of potentially unlawful conduct at INM.

The investigation will look into concerns that INM journalists’ emails may have been improperly accessed for data on people who had tangled in the past with the newspaper groups' biggest shareholder Denis O’Brien, said the Irish Times, which reported that the state watchdog was also concerned that INM  had been run for the benefit of O’Brien ahead of other shareholders.

Peter Kelly said:

“That anybody’s private data would be wrongfully accessed is a serious matter but in the context in which that was allegedly done in the present case it is even more so.The company occupies a dominant position in the sector in this country and there is an obvious public interest in its proper governance. It is in the public interest to discover everything about, in particular, the data interrogation issue so as to find out if there were wrongdoings carried on by the company in the conduct of its business or by persons connected with its management.”

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, said: "This is a welcome and timely recognition by Judge Peter Kelly of the importance of data breaches involving journalists. Political action on media ownership can no longer be delayed or justified."

High Court to appoint two inspectors to INM