Monday 24 September 2018

INM was never anti-McCabe, says former editor-in-chief

Stephen Rae gave evidence to the Disclosures Tribunal. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Stephen Rae gave evidence to the Disclosures Tribunal. Picture: Steve Humphreys

Andrew Phelan

Independent News and Media was never "anti" Sgt Maurice McCabe or "pushed the Garda line" on his story, the company's former editor-in-chief told the Disclosures Tribunal.

Stephen Rae said 98pc of the group's coverage had been positive toward Sgt McCabe and INM's relationship with the force was "for the most part adversarial". He said he himself had been "blacklisted" by the Garda press office at one point.

Mr Rae was giving evidence to the tribunal investigating an alleged smear campaign by senior gardaí against Sgt McCabe.

While Sgt McCabe was investigated over a complaint made by a woman known as Ms D, the DPP decided in 2007 that there should be no charges and what was described did not amount to a crime. Mr Rae said he did not know about the Ms D allegation until journalist Paul Williams interviewed her in March 2014.

He told Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal, that the matter was considered closely and it was decided to run the story in the Irish Independent without naming Sgt McCabe. Mr Rae described as "completely untrue" any suggestion that INM was anti-Sgt McCabe and was pushing the Garda line in relation to the story.

He had oversight of four national newspapers and 98pc of the content carried was "pro-Sgt McCabe".

He had not heard anything indicating that Supt Dave Taylor was "pushing a particular line" with journalists or editors in INM.

Mark Harty SC, for journalist Gemma O'Doherty, questioned Mr Rae about her visit to the home of then-Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan in 2013, when Ms O'Doherty worked for the Irish Independent. She was investigating Mr Callinan having penalty points quashed.

Mr Rae formed the view that the visit was "not professional" and later emailed her with guidelines.

She was later made involuntarily redundant as the company tackled its "cost base". There was "not a whit of evidence" her dismissal was anything to do with the gardaí, Rossa Fanning SC, for INM, said.

Irish Independent

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