Tuesday 12 December 2017

RTE must give Gallagher papers on 'Tweetgate'

Former presidential election candidate Sean Gallagher. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Former presidential election candidate Sean Gallagher. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Tim Healy

FORMER presidential election candidate Sean Gallagher must be given certain documents for his legal action against RTE arising from the 'Tweetgate' incident during a televised election debate.

Mr Gallagher sought documents including one created between the date of the broadcast on October 24, 2011, of the 'Frontline' debate and November 18, 2012, when a report of an internal RTE review of the broadcast was published.

RTE opposed the action in the High Court. It claimed the request was too broad and amounted to a "trawl" of documentation that would put the station to extra cost.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan yesterday ruled Mr Gallagher is entitled to be provided with the documents he is seeking.

Mr Gallagher's lawyers had asked the court for orders compelling RTE to discover certain categories of documents because they were unhappy with the scope of documents that RTE was prepared to make available.

Among the documents was material received by RTE via the "McGuinness4president" Twitter account, which was subsequently put to Mr Gallagher.

He also sought documents recording RTE's protocols and guidelines for verification of information used during broadcast.

Mr Justice Gilligan was satisfied Mr Gallagher was "not seeking to engage in a fishing expedition or general trawl of RTE's documentation."

He did not accept compliance with orders for discovery would prove to be "unnecessarily costly" for RTE or lengthen the litigation. In his main action, Mr Gallagher seeks a declaration the October 2011 RTE 'Frontline' debate involving the election candidates was deliberately and unfairly edited and presented and directed by RTE in order to damage his electoral prospects in the election.

He claims the broadcast was neither objective, impartial, nor fair to his interests.

He is also claiming damages for alleged breach of statutory duty, negligence and misfeasance in public office. His claim includes a claim for exemplary damages arising from comments allegedly made by broadcaster Pat Kenny in relation to "Tweetgate."

RTE denies the claims.

Irish Independent

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