Friday 24 February 2017

Councillor sues RTE over 'entrapment'

Tim Healy

Tom McHugh alleges RTE caused him, as an elected public representative, to expend time and effort in what he believed to be a public interest in vain. Picture Ray Ryan
Tom McHugh alleges RTE caused him, as an elected public representative, to expend time and effort in what he believed to be a public interest in vain. Picture Ray Ryan

A Fine Gael Councillor in Galway is suing RTE alleging it sought to entrap him by having an undercover reporter allegedly meet and secretly record him while she posed as an agent for wind energy investors.

Tom McHugh, who featured in a programme entitled 'RTE Investigates: Standard in Public Office' broadcast on December 7, claims RTE sought to procure his corruption as a public representative and sought to interfere with the discharge of his responsibilities. He alleges RTE caused him, as an elected public representative, to expend time and effort in what he believed to be a public interest in vain.

Mr McHugh claims a woman calling herself 'Nina Carlsson' purporting to be from Iceland was in fact employed by RTE or was a servant or agent of the broadcaster when she arranged to meet him on November 2 2015 at the Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit, Galway.

He claims she falsely represented she was acting for a company seeking to invest in wind energy in east Galway, abused his good faith and readiness to assist and covertly recorded her interview so RTE could use it as it saw fit. He has brought proceedings seeking damages, including aggravated and exemplary damages against RTE.

A hotelier, shopkeeper and builder of Kilcolgan, Tuam, Mr McHugh claims RTE has certain duties under the Broadcasting Acts and is also obliged not to infringe his right to privacy.

RTE has yet to file a defence but in correspondence denied any attempt to entrap Mr McHugh. It says he was among a number of councillors approached by an undercover reporter arising from a programme concerning statements/declarations of interest filed by public representatives.

Irish Independent

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