Saturday 19 October 2019

Nobody poured poison in my ear over Garda whistleblower, says Reynolds

Paul Reynolds at the tribunal in Dublin Castle yesterday. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Paul Reynolds at the tribunal in Dublin Castle yesterday. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

RTÉ crime correspondent Paul Reynolds told the Disclosures Tribunal nobody was "pouring poison into his ear" about penalty points whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

He also said Garda HQ had "absolutely no influence" over him when he reported the findings of an investigation into Garda failings following complaints by Sgt McCabe.

Mr Reynolds denied that the coverage of the report of the O'Higgins Commission's findings was "pro-Garda" and rejected he had branded Sgt McCabe "a liar and irresponsible".

While he did use the word "lie" in his broadcasts about a reference in the report to an "untruth" by Sgt McCabe, he said: "I think a reporter's duty is to tell it like it is."

Mr Reynolds also denied he was "negatively briefed" by former Garda press officer Supt Dave Taylor about Sgt McCabe.

The tribunal is investigating an alleged smear campaign by senior gardaí against Sgt McCabe.

One of the issues being investigated is whether the then Garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, using briefing material prepared in Garda HQ, influenced or attempted to influence May 9, 2016 RTÉ broadcasts in which "Sgt McCabe was branded a liar and irresponsible".

Recordings of Mr Reynolds's TV and radio reports, as well as other RTÉ broadcasts about the O'Higgins Commission report of 2016, were played to the tribunal yesterday.

Mr Reynolds had obtained a copy of the commission's report before it was published.

He said that while the broadcasts quoted the criticism of Sgt McCabe in the commission's report, they also repeated positive remarks about him "ad nauseam" so there could be no perception that they were being unfair or unbalanced.

However, Sgt McCabe sent RTÉ a solicitors' letter saying he had been "grossly defamed".

The letter said it appeared Mr Reynolds had taken a briefing from interested parties, and this briefing was done "with a view to destroying the reputation of Sgt McCabe".

The O'Higgins Commission report found that Sgt McCabe had told an untruth about a case, that he was aware it was an untruth, and that he told it for a specific reason and it was found to be unacceptable, Mr Reynolds said. "Because of those four factors I said it was a lie," he said.

It was his decision, and he was supported at the highest level in RTÉ, he added.

He had looked up the definition of "untruth" in two dictionaries. "I think a reporter's duty is to tell it like it is," he added.

His own notes taken in the run-up to the broadcasts, shown to the tribunal, were "bits and bobs" and not the basis for anything, he said.

Irish Independent

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