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The European Union’s former Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan believes his right to privacy was breached during the events that led to his resignation last week and is considering a formal complaint to Irish authorities.

Hogan quit under political pressure in his native Ireland for breaking the rules on coronavirus travel restrictions to attend a golf-club dinner. He was heavily criticized for giving unclear accounts of his movements to the Irish government and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Hogan also received a caution from police for using his mobile phone while driving in Ireland on the August trip. A friend of the former commissioner, who said he was speaking on Hogan’s behalf, described Hogan as furious that this information had been leaked to the media.

“Former Commissioner Hogan is in no doubt the information was leaked to make him look bad in the eyes of the Irish public,” said the friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity but whose long-standing association with Hogan was verified by officials close to the former commissioner. Hogan himself was unavailable for comment.

“Only a very small number of people in government knew this and it got out. ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’ are the big questions he’d like answered,” said the friend. “He would also like to know what the Taoiseach and Tánaiste [Irish prime minister and deputy prime minister] are doing to investigate how this private information, effectively his personal data, was leaked.”

In an interview with Irish public broadcaster RTÉ last week just before he resigned over the so-called golfgate, Hogan said he was “disappointed that [the driving incident] appeared in the newspapers” and at what he called his “private details … being leaked to the media.”

A day later, announcing his resignation, Hogan insisted he didn’t break any law regarding coronavirus rules, but accepted he had become an unwelcome distraction from EU efforts to fight the pandemic, as well as from trade talks.

In Dublin, a senior aide to Prime Minister Micheál Martin said it was not accurate to describe the chain of information on Hogan’s traffic offense — which resulted in a caution rather than a ticket and fine — as a “leak.”

The Irish official said the commander of the Garda Síochána, or national police, Drew Harris, informed Justice Minister Helen McEntee during a routine briefing that Hogan had been stopped and cautioned by a police officer in County Kildare, where specific COVID restrictions were in place at the time, on his way to the golf dinner in County Galway. McEntee then passed this report to Martin and his deputy, Leo Varadkar.

The official did not address Hogan’s complaint that this information had found its way into the hands of the media. Hogan’s friend said the ex-commissioner was considering a formal complaint to Ireland’s Data Protection Commission. Contacted for comment, the DPC said it could not discuss individual cases.

Hogan has also complained about double standards, contrasting his treatment to the fact that Martin and two Irish officials were able to travel to Brussels to an EU summit in July without having to quarantine.

However, the prime minister’s aide said different rules applied to people ordinarily resident in Ireland traveling to Belgium on official business, and a person ordinarily resident in Belgium traveling to Ireland for personal reasons.

Martin and his aides were tested for COVID-19 on their return to Ireland and again a week later, the official said. They were told to restrict their movements but were given an exemption from quarantine requirements to enable them to attend the summit, the official said.

Hogan, meanwhile, intends to base himself in Brussels after his short break and is considering what the friend described as “a flurry of job offers.”

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