Irish News

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Quinns 'defamed' in RTE report, claim

Former tycoon's daughter says piece was 'entirely biased'

MAEVE SHEEHAN

Published 04/12/2011 | 05:00

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DEBT PILE: Sean Quinn, once worth €4bn, told a court in Northern Ireland that his assets now amount to less than £50,000. Photo: David Conachy
COMPLAINT: Tycoon's eldest daughter Ciara Quinn

SEAN Quinn's family has lodged an official complaint over a Prime Time report it claims "defamed" them, ramping up the pressure on the state broadcaster.

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The former tycoon's eldest daughter, Ciara, has claimed a report on her family's battles with the former Anglo Irish Bank over a disputed €2bn debt was "entirely biased" and accused them of "criminal activity".

The Prime Time report, on November 3, chronicled the bank's attempts to recover the massive debt owed by Sean Quinn to the bank, which secured judgements against him for €2.1bn. In their official complaint, lodged with the broadcaster last Thursday, the Quinn family have claimed the report was weighted in favour of Anglo and ignored their side of the story.

The family may also take their case to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

The Quinn family's complaint is the latest onslaught on the state broadcaster since the Fr Kevin Reynolds' debacle. The libelling of the priest on the Prime Time Investigates programme is now the subject of three separate inquiries, including one by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. Former presidential candidate Sean Gallagher also made serious allegations against RTE news and current affairs, about what he called an "ambush" on a presidential election debate on Front Line.

The Quinn family is engaged in an acrimonious legal row with the bank, now known as the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, over massive debts as a result of Sean Quinn's gamble on Anglo shares. The Quinn family claims the loans are not valid, and were given to prop up the bank's falling share price, a claim the bank denies.

Sean Quinn, who is now bankrupt and claims he is worth less than £50,000 (€58,000), has claimed he and his family are the victims of a vendetta by the bank.

A spokesperson for RTE confirmed the complaint was being dealt with and could not comment further.

Writing on behalf of the family in the four-page complaint, Ms Quinn alleged that the Prime Time report took a "deliberately persuasive and entirely biased approach towards the Quinn family".

She claimed the report lacked fairness, impartiality, objectivity, integrity and independence.

She further claimed that RTE "has also defamed us".

Her family was accused of criminal activity by engaging in "espionage", she claimed, and the term was used to "besmirch" their reputation. She claimed they were deliberately portrayed negatively, which could prejudice the "pending litigation" before the courts.

A major concern was that the report gave no time to the "central tenet" of the Quinns' case, which is that Anglo loaned the money to support its own share price.

"While ignoring this position entirely, the programme concentrated on damning by implication and falsehood the actions of the Quinn family as being underhand and to the detriment of the Irish taxpayer to whom it was repeatedly suggested that a debt is owed," she wrote.

She also claimed "selective editing" to portray the Quinn family negatively and a number of "factual inaccuracies".

Ms Quinn, who is married to solicitor Niall McPartland, is party, along with the other Quinn children, to the ongoing litigation between the family and the former Anglo Irish Bank over the disputed loans.

She was sacked from her job in Quinn Insurance earlier this year. She claims she was on approved maternity leave at the time.

But the company cited her continual "absence" as the reason for dismissal.

Sunday Independent

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