TWO childcare workers are suing RTE claming they were defamed in a Primetime Programme about a number of creches.
Sandra Kavanagh and Lisa Craddock, were employed at the Links Creche, Abbington, Malahide, Dublin, which featured in the May 28 programme in which undercover reporters secretly filmed inside the creches.
Ms Craddock of Brookwood Glen, Artane, and Ms Kavanagh, Hawthorn Park, Forrest Park, Swords, both Dublin, say they have been left devastated by the broadcast which they say alleged they were involved in the mistreatment of, and utter indifference towards, children in their care.
Both workers, who deny they engaged in such activities, were suspended and eventually dismissed by their employer following the broadcast.
Today in the High Court Mr Justice Kevin Cross ruled on a preliminary motion granting the workers are entitled to be provided with certain material by RTE before their statement of claim, which gives the exact nature of the action, is served on the national broadcaster.
The material sought includes both the recording and the transcript of a version of "Breach of Trust" shown to the parents of the children at the Links Creche before the programme was broadcast.
Frank Callanan SC, for the workers, said his clients would be left at a huge disadvantage unless they were provided with the material they sought.
Counsel said their application arose because parents of children at the creche were given an advance viewing of the programme a few days before the main broadcast on the national airwaves.
Despite several requests, RTE had refused to furnish them with the material, which they they say they need to properly set out their claim.
Counsel said while it was only hearsay at this point, what exactly was shown to the parents, his clients were led to believe, differed to what was actually broadcast by RTE.
While it was accepted that both his clients were also given a separate advance screening of the programme, in the presence of their lawyers, they have no idea what exactly was shown to the parents.
Counsel said Ms Kavanagh was not shown or identified in the main broadcast while Ms Craddock's was not named and her image was pixelated out. Both clients counsel said had received an "adverse reaction from parents of children at the creche.
The normal practise was to seek such discovery after the statement of claim. In this case, exceptional circumstances merited the court granting an order compelling RTE to provide his clients with the material they sought, counsel said.
RTE, represented by Mark Connaughton SC, opposed the application for a legal disclosure (discovery) order of the material.
Counsel said there were no exceptional circumstances in this case and the two workers had ample material to submit their statement of claim.
Counsel also told the court RTE is "keenly concerned" about this matter.
As the programme featured young children RTE had agreed to broadcast the matter once, and had not put it on its Internet playback service, the RTE player.
Mr Justice Cooke said the two workers are entitled to discovery of the material. While this was a change from the normal practice, he was satisfied exceptional circumstances existed in this case.