The CJEU has ruled that Ireland’s system of retaining and accessing mobile phone metadata breaches EU law. Photo: Christian Lue

EU Court rules phone data used in Graham Dwyer case breaches EU law

Today the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruled that EU law does not support the holding data of electronic communications indiscriminately for the purpose of combating serious crime.

The ruling was in a case taken by convicted murderer Graham Dwyer and is a boost in his attempt to have his conviction for murder overturned. In 2015, he was convicted of the murder of Elaine O'Hara in August 2012.

The CJEU has decided that Ireland’s system of retaining and accessing mobile phone metadata breaches EU law.

It found Ireland’s Communications Act 2011 is inconsistent with EU law.

Mobile phone metadata was a crucial part of the prosecution's case against Dwyer. However, while the decision has implications across Europe, it does not mean Dwyer will automatically win his appeal.

Dwyer’s case will now go back to the Supreme Court, which may rule in his favour.

His appeal, however, will be determined by the Court of Appeal, which will hear arguments about the admissibility of this evidence at his trial.

The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said this morning that she noted the judgment of the CJEU.

“The case will now revert to the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice will consider, together with the Attorney General’s Office, the judgment of the Supreme Court when the case is finalised.

“I expect that the Supreme Court’s judgment will bring clarity in this important area to inform the necessary legislation, thus supporting to the greatest degree possible the work of An Garda Síochána to tackle crime and carry out effective investigations.

"This legislation will need to take account of the outcome of the Supreme Court’s referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union, and the judgment of the Supreme Court," she said.