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BAI heavily critical of RTE management in ‘Prime Time Investigates’ report

A BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) report into the Prime Time Investigates programme on Fr Kevin Reynolds has found the broadcast to be unfair and a breach of his privacy.

The BAI briefing on the report, which was conducted by former BBC Northern Ireland controller Anna Carragher, was seen by the Irish Times, but has not yet been released.

Among the findings, the report found that interviews with significant sources were not documented, and there was almost a complete lack of documentary evidence. It also found that at all stages of the production process note taking was grossly inadequate.

The report finds that there was a lack of scrutiny within the RTE current affairs department, which led the production team towards a ‘group think’ mentality. This led them to believe the ‘facts’ verified their assumptions, the report found.

The report goes on to say that this mentality led them to believe that the offer by Fr Reynolds to take a paternity test was a tactic, in an attempt to derail the programme.

It is believed the fine proposed will be €200,000, which is at the upper end of the BAI’s €250,000 limit.

RTE’s submission to the report acknowledged the broadcast was seriously defamatory and expressed deep regret at what had happened.

Ms. Carragher found there were significant failures of RTE’s editorial and managerial controls in advance of the broadcast, and a failure to anticipate the damage which could be done to RTE’s journalistic reputation as a result.

The Prime Time Investigates reporter Aoife Kavanagh is, according to The Irish Times, expected to vigorously contest the findings of the report.