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Revenue forced to reveal documents after appeal

REVENUE bosses will have to disclose documents to broadcaster RTE on the involvement of a high-level garda informer in drug-smuggling operations after losing a Supreme Court appeal.

RTE sought the documents as part of its defence of a libel action against it by the informer.

In 2007, the High Court ordered the Revenue and gardai to make available certain documents to RTE. However, this decision was appealed by Revenue to the Supreme Court where Mr Justice William McKechnie yesterday dismissed the appeal.

Revenue claimed that the information was sensitive and confidential and that RTE was on a fishing exercise to reinforce its justification plea in the libel case.

The informer claimed he had been libelled in the broadcast, including claims that he had diverted drug consignments for his own advantage despite being a garda informer.

The judge said that the 'Prime Time' broadcast, which covered the activities of a criminal gang between 1995 and 1996, was given intense pre-publicity, which led to the gardai intervening before the programme went out.

This resulted in RTE announcing that for reasons of security it had been deemed necessary to remove images and references to a "key individual".

Despite this, he was identified on three occasions during the transmission and his image was also used, the judge said.

After he brought legal proceedings, RTE pleaded justification.

Irish Independent