Tom Savage - 'final call with News Head'
Published 27/11/2011 | 05:00
THE chairman of RTE, Tom Savage, has broken his silence to comment on the furore caused by the fallout from the Prime Time Investigates documentary.
Mr Savage conceded a total of five people were involved, "If there was one individual involved you could say it was stress, they were overworked, or whatever, but it wasn't. Five people -- including the most experienced of people who make decisions like they eat their breakfast -- decided it."
However, Mr Savage continued: "As far as I am concerned, in all the decisions that were made in Prime Time, Ed [Mulhall, RTE Managing Director of News and Current Affairs] would have been the, what I would call, the ultimate court of judgement and appeal."
Mr Savage said Mr Mulhall was a perfectionist "who prides himself in always getting it right" and rated him as one of the finest broadcast executives he had come across.
Mr Mulhall has stood down from his position as three inquiries have been launched into the programme Mission to Prey.
Asked who made the final decision to air the discredited documentary, which is believed to have cost RTE an estimated €2m in costs and damages, Mr Savage responded: "Oh, in this case Ed. Oh, absolutely."
"This went so high that it didn't need to go higher. It went to the head of News and Current Affairs [Ed Mulhall]. It never went to Noel [Curran, Director-General of RTE] because it didn't need to," he said.
His comments came as it was revealed Mr Curran offered his resignation. The sensational offer to quit his €250,000-a-year post was made after a paternity test proved Fr Reynolds did not father a child by an African girl.
However, the RTE board "firmly rejected" the director general's resignation offer.
A video tape has now emerged of Mr Curran addressing a group of "very vocal" staff in the RTE newsroom last Thursday as pressure mounted for those responsible for the documentary to step down.
In the footage, Mr Curran is confronted by high-profile RTE correspondent Ingrid Miley telling him she and other staff are embarrassed and ashamed about RTE's handling of the Fr Reynolds disaster.
But the RTE Authority has now firmly positioned itself in full support of Mr Curran.