BBC recruit in rapid rise to No 2 job at Montrose
RTE's head of news and current affairs Kevin Bakhurst has been promoted to deputy director general, just 18 months after he joined the station after the 'Prime Time Mission to Prey' debacle.
The surprise appointment last week puts English-born Mr Bakhurst (46), who joined from 'BBC News' in July 2012, as second in command to RTE's director general Noel Curran.
The speculation in RTE is that this will put Mr Bakhurst in pole position to replace Mr Curran, although the director general has another four years to go on his contract.
This has been fuelled by the fact that the position of deputy director general has been vacant for more than 10 years.
In a statement to staff, RTE said that the appointment was "in line with best practice corporate governance". It is understood that Mr Bakhurst deputised for Mr Curran on a few occasions last summer.
Mr Bakhurst will continue in his role as managing director of news and current affairs – but will have editorial input into other divisions.
He will also attend meetings, events and functions in the absence of the director general, according to RTE. The chairman of the RTE board, Pat Savage, welcomed the appointment.
RTE would not reveal Mr Bakhurst's salary. According to RTE's last set of accounts for 2012, Noel Curran is on €338,000 a year including pension and other benefits.
Mr Bakhurst was headhunted in an effort to restore the reputation of the station's news and current affairs section following 'Mission to Prey'.
The programme defamed Co Galway priest Fr Kevin Reynolds when it accused him of fathering a child in Kenya – allegations which RTE later admitted were baseless and untrue. Fr Reynolds sued the station and accepted an undisclosed sum in settlement and an apology.