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Judge brands anti-terrorism unit top cop Michael Lawlor 'stupid and foolish'
11:08am Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
THE former head of Merseyside Police’s anti-terrorism unit has been described as “stupid and foolish” by a judge after being convicted of illegally accessing information on the police computer.
Det Chf Insp Michael Lawlor was caught looking up details of a man who visited the same pub as him.
Lawlor, who was acting superintendent in charge of the Information and Security Bureau, was accused of trying to find information about a criminal who had £150,000 seized from him by police.
Lawlor, 45, was said to be a regular in the same pub as an associate of the man.
In April 2011 the pair went on a stag trip together, where the associate asked Lawlor about his friend “Big Stan” and the money police had taken from him.
Over the next few weeks Lawlor made searches of a police system and spreadsheets on cash seizures.
Lawlor, whose address cannot be revealed by court order, was found guilty after a trial of four offences of unlawfully obtaining information and one of attempting to access information. He was cleared of two similar offences.
Fining him £5,000 and ordering him to pay prosecution costs of £15,000, Judge Mark Brown said he had been “foolish and stupid” and the case was a tragedy for him and Merseyside Police.
The judge said: “There is no evidence you passed on any information to third parties or intended to do so. I deal with you on the basis that the searches were born out of curiosity, but it is said that curiosity killed the cat.
“You were extremely unwise attending a public house where you knew there were individuals such as Stanley Feerick and David Hunter, who were also from time to time customers.
“As the head of Special Branch you should have been particularly diligent to make sure you were never in the situation where you could be compromised or it could be thought you were being compromised.”
Lawlor said the searches were personally not professionally motivated, and he was trying to get information to help his department get proper credit for cash seizures in which they had been involved.
Rick Holland, defending, said: “The effect of these convictions will be far-reaching. There is a very strong likelihood this will mean the end of his police career. A shadow has been cast over his integrity and his standing with his colleagues.”
Lawlor, a father-of-two, has been suspended since the offences came to light.