RTE LIBEL victim Fr Kevin Reynolds was not consulted in the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) investigation into the Prime Time Investigates programme, it emerged today.
Describing his exclusion as “extraordinary”, his solicitor Robert Dore said any inquiry into “A Mission to Prey” should have involved an input from him and Fr Reynolds would have liked to have been consulted.
“I would have thought that even at a basic level that the person at the centre of it would have been consulted,” he said on RTE’s Morning Ireland programme.
A spokesperson for the BAI said that the authority was only permitted to investigate RTE and an interview with Fr Reynolds would have been outside its remit.
Calling the decision by RTE to disband the Prime Time Investigates series, “cosmetic”, Mr Dore said he believed the announcements by RTE of the retirement of the head of news and the resignation of the current affairs editor, were premature.
However, he said that he hope these measures, combined with new journalistic standards and controls, would ensure no repeat of the damage done to Fr Reynolds.
RTE said today that yesterday’s announcement of the personnel changes and editorial guidelines by director general, Noel Curran, referred to changes already made and they would be dealing with the BAI report in a full response when it is published.
Fr Reynolds, the Parish Priest of Ashascaragh, Co Galway was a lot better now that he was last year. “His position is that he is glad to put all this behind him,” Mr Dore said.
The BAI report, to be published shortly, is expected to find that the Prime Time Investigates programme which libelled Fr Reynolds by wrongly claiming he had fathered a child, was unfair to him and breached his privacy.
The BAI can impose a fine of up to €250,000 on RTE which is believed to have already paid a seven figure sum to Fr Reynolds.
It is understood that RTE is aware of the main findings of the BAI report, but has yet to receive the full document. It then has 14 days to decide to accept or reject the findings and could appeal the decision to the High Court.
Mr Dore said that Fr Reynolds did not have a clue what was in the report and that he had written to the BAI and RTE asking to see it before it is published.
Fr Reynolds was not notified that the report had been completed as the BAI is not obliged to do so since he did not make the original complaint.
Fr Reynolds got undisclosed damages from the High Court and an apology from RTE which accepted the claims were without any foundation.
LAST May RTE broadcast a 'Primetime Investigates' programme entitled 'Mission to Prey'. It alleged that Fr Kevin Reynolds had committed statutory rape by fathering a child with an underage Kenyan girl called Veneranda while she was working as a maid in a house he frequented in Africa 30 years ago.