Nob Nation brothel sketch lands RTE in hot water
Owner of guesthouse sues broadcaster for defamation
Published 13/07/2011 | 05:00
A GUESTHOUSE owner is suing RTE for defamation over a 'Nob Nation' broadcast in which he claims his premises was described as a brothel.
Vincent O'Toole (84), owner of the Maryland House, formerly the Maryland Hotel, of the Mall in Waterford, was extremely distressed and deeply frustrated by the broadcast, a court was told.
The High Court heard he took a successful libel action against the 'Sunday World' newspaper in 2007 over a similar claim, in which he secured a €50,000 settlement.
Mr O'Toole, a former ships master, and racehorse breeder, was described as a "leading light" in the local Waterford community.
He is suing over the 'Nob Nation' episode on the 'Gerry Ryan Show' on 2FM in August 2008.
His lawyer told the court yesterday, on the opening day of his libel action before a judge and jury, that even as recently as last week a tourist turned up at the guesthouse expecting that he was arriving at a brothel.
He said Mr O'Toole and his wife had been abused and had had to call gardai on occasions.
Lawyer for Mr O'Toole, John Gordon, said RTE had published programme standards and guidelines in June 2008, but were in complete dereliction of those standards when they broadcast the sketch.
He said the piece was embarrassingly vulgar and obnoxious and the defamation was made worse by the fact that RTE had left the podcast on their website until March 2010. It was also still available on YouTube, he said.
Mr Gordon said RTE had let the genie out of the bottle and had not given Mr O'Toole any assistance to get the broadcast off the internet, and that the original broadcast was heard by more than 200,000 people.
Before the sketch was played to the jury, Mr Gordon said they would probably find themselves wincing because it was the "most vulgar type of broadcast imaginable".
'Nob Nation' is a comedy sketch show created by satirist Oliver Callan. The sketch in question featured "Kevin My-arse" giving a Linguaphone guide to Waterford slang.
And it stated: "The Maryland is a byword in Waterford for prostitution although the original establishment has ceased trading. If you're going down there, beware of undesirables."
The court heard RTE had apologised for any distress caused in a letter to Mr O'Toole's solicitors. In a later letter, RTE said the piece was not defamatory.
The hearing continues.