Friday 24 November 2017

Rabbitte denies any role in RTE libel settlement

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Pat Rabbitte last night said he had "no hand" in a libel payout made by RTE over remarks he made about a garda investigation.

The case was reported to have cost the national broadcaster up to €100,000 in compensation and legal costs, but Mr Rabbitte rejected this figure.

Mr Rabbitte was due to be called as a witness in the libel action over comments he made on an RTE news programme about the gardai's wrongful charging of Dublin man Dean Lyons with the murder of two women at the Grangegorman hospital complex in 1997. The libel action was settled before it was due to come to court on Tuesday last week, the same day Mr Rabbitte met the RTEboard over the Fr Kevin Reynolds affair.

Fianna Fail senator Terry Leyden this week said Mr Rabbitte should have been liable for the payout himself.

In the Seanad, Mr Leyden hinted that a possible agreement had taken place between between RTE and Mr Rabbitte at the meeting.

"The case was settled, lo and behold, the day the Minister met the RTÉ authority, last Tuesday, 8 May 2012, and then the RTÉ authority was not abolished," Mr Leyden said.

In response, Mr Rabbitte made a statement to the Seanad last night, saying the case "was, I understand, settled by RTE on confidential terms but without any admission of liability".

"While I was not party to the case, I had agreed to appear as a witness," the minister added.

"I was not even aware of this case until a matter of weeks before it was listed for hearing. I had no hand in determining the manner in which it was defended or settled. I understand that the settlement details as reported are inaccurate."

Irish Independent

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