Plane scandal star to be back on air
Published 02/01/2011 | 05:00
Controversial star Neil Prendeville is to return to the airwaves for the first time since he engaged in an alleged sex act on an Aer Lingus flight.
The UTV-owned Cork radio station 96fm is expecting a ratings boost following a decision to bring Mr Prendeville in from the cold.
Mr Prendeville hosts the station's flagship morning show but has been off-air since November 3 when reports of the alleged incident first emerged.
The radio star is alleged to have first exposed himself and then masturbated while seated in the front row of an Aer Lingus plane on a flight from Heathrow to Cork on October 19 last.
Mr Prendeville later insisted that he had absolutely no recollection of the incident after consuming painkillers on top of three pints of Guinness, three bottles of lager and a copious amount of wine.
He vehemently denied having taken any type of drug such as cocaine -- and said he would undergo blood tests to confirm that.
Gardai launched an investigation into the incident after receiving a formal complaint.
They have since spoken with Mr Prendeville and all the passengers seated near him at the time. A file has been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
It remains unclear what action, if any, will result. However, it is now expected that Mr Prendeville will return to his morning show on either January 17 or 24.
He and his family enjoyed a brief overseas break in December -- but have spent Christmas in Cork.
Until his return to the airways, his researcher, Colm Moore, and special correspondent, PJ Coogan, will continue to deputise.
UTV has insisted that Mr Prendeville's return to air will only be countenanced once its investigation and the garda probe are concluded.
The Sunday Independent understands that there is mounting pressure for the controversial star's return given the huge importance attached to his audience figures.
96FM boasts, per capita, the highest listenership figures of any station outside Dublin with Mr Prendeville its highest-paid star.