Friday 23 February 2018

RTÉ and O'Brien clash over appeal of court injunction

Denis O'Brien
Denis O'Brien
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

State broadcaster RTE and businessman Denis O'Brien have clashed over the deadline for appeal by the station of the High Court injunction which stopped it from airing details of Mr O'Brien's dealings with Irish Bank Resolution Company (IBRC)

Mr O'Brien's spokesman James Morrissey yesterday insisted the station had a seven-day deadline to appeal the ruling by Justice Donald Binchy, made on May 21.

However, RTÉ said it has 21 days to appeal the decision and station sources said it is still considering its options.

Both parties are due back before Justice Binchy on Friday when he will publish his redacted judgment.

The difference of opinion over the appeal deadline was first raised during a debate on RTÉ Radio One's 'This Week' programme between Mr Morrissey and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. During the pre-recorded interview with broadcaster Richard Crowley, Mr Morrissey asked why RTÉ had not appealed the High Court ruling.

Mr Crowley responded by saying the station did not have the court order yet, referring to Justice Binchy's decision to have his judgment redacted before it is published.

"We don't have the court order yet. We don't know yet. The document has been redacted and we have yet to get the full court order and it's on the basis of having seen that, that an application or an appeal would be lodged," Mr Crowley said.

Mr Morrissey persisted with the point later in the interview and Mr Crowley again insisted RTÉ was awaiting the final court ruling.

"I've told you that no decision has been made on that because the court order has not been received by RTÉ and that's a decision that will be made next week, so please stop saying that RTÉ have not appealed this," he said.

After the interview, during the live broadcast, Mr Crowley said: "RTÉ says that it has 21 days, and not seven days, to make a decision on that matter."

Mr O'Brien was granted an injunction against RTÉ after a three-day hearing last month.

He insisted his right to privacy would be breached by RTÉ's 'Six One News' broadcasting an item which detailed his personal banking arrangements with IBRC.

He said his reputation with banks would be "irreparably damaged" by the broadcast and his lawyers said he was taking the case on a point of principle.

RTÉ argued that Mr O'Brien was a powerful businessman and cannot expect to be considered a private citizen.

RTÉ said it was "disappointed" by the court's decision as it believed the story was in the public interest.

However, the station said it respected the court's decision on the matter.

"RTÉ will give further consideration to today's ruling and will continue to report on, and investigate, stories in the public interest," the broadcaster said in a statement.

Irish Independent

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