Wednesday 26 June 2019

Ganley takes legal action over RTE's Prime Time report


Businessman Declan Ganley has begun legal proceedings against RTE's Prime Time programme.

The action by the high-profile entrepreneur and political activist comes only weeks after Fr Kevin Reynolds was awarded €1m in damages for being defamed by the programme -- while, in a separate case, businessman Sean Gallagher has made serious allegations against RTE News and Current Affairs in relation to what he claims was an "ambush" of him on The Frontline presidential election TV debate.

The plenary summons, which was served last Friday evening, comes three years after the programme -- which Mr Ganley believes contained "extremely serious, defamatory allegations" against him -- was aired.

Mr Ganley alleges that the Prime Time team attempted to discredit him both personally and professionally and undermined his opposition to the Lisbon Treaty.

It is understood that the Libertas founder sought legal advice after concerns were raised by his family and friends following the recent publicity over the station's treatment of Fr Reynolds.

Mr Ganley's lawyer, Paul Tweed, says he is now acting with a view to getting the case into the High Court in the new year.

The programme, which aired on November 27, 2008, was supposed to be a profile of Mr Ganley.

Mr Ganley is a founder of wireless, broadband and cable TV networks in western, central and eastern Europe. He also founded and built up what became the largest privately held forestry business in the former Soviet Union, before selling it in 1997.

However, he is now best known for his role as founder and chairman of political party Libertas.

During the 2008 referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, Mr Ganley and Libertas campaigned for a 'No' vote.

This weekend Mr Tweed said: "My client had put RTE on notice of his outrage regarding his treatment immediately following the broadcast, but was discouraged from taking action at the time due to the potential ramifications for him for ongoing coverage of his campaign.

"However, following the not dissimilar treatment of Fr Reynolds, he is determined to do all that it takes to vindicate his reputation."

Meanwhile, last month failed presidential election candidate Sean Gallagher submitted a detailed 22-page complaint against RTE to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) in which he says he is also seeking a "formal apology" from the broadcaster.

Mr Gallagher's complaint relates to the manner in which RTE dealt with the controversial "fake tweet" incident at a decisive moment in the presidential election.

At the time, Mr Gallagher was the clear front runner to win the Presidency, but he failed to win the election.

The final debate was broadcast live less than 57 hours before polling and less than 40 hours before an election moratorium on media coverage.

Prime Time Investigates is also currently involved in an independent inquiry into why RTE broadcast the Prime Time Investigates: A Mission to Prey programme, which wrongly accused Fr Reynolds of raping a minor and having a child by her.

Sunday Independent

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