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RTE libel action settled before Rabbitte takes stand

THE Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte, was spared being called as a witness in a libel action taken against RTE over comments he made on a news programme concerning the Garda's wrongful charging of a Dublin man with the murder of two women at the Grangegorman hospital complex in 1997.

The libel action, which had been pending for six years, was settled out of court last Friday week.

The case was brought by retired detective sergeant, Alan Bailey, who served in the Bridewell garda station for more than 30 years and who was one of three gardai who expressed misgivings prior to Dean Lyons being charged with murder in August 1997. He said he could not comment on the libel case when contacted last week.

He brought the case against the RTE Authority over remarks made by the then Dublin South West TD, Mr Rabbitte, on RTE's Sunday news programme News at One after the publication of the 2006 report by then senior counsel George Bermingham in the Grangegorman affair.

Details of the settlement were not known last week but it is understood RTE agreed a financial settlement along with costs.

Mr Rabbitte's remarks about detectives in the Bridewell garda station at or around the time Dean Lyons was wrongly charged cannot be repeated.

No garda was charged with any matter arising out of the interviewing of Dean Lyons.

Mr Rabbitte said last week: "I understand that the case was settled by RTE on confidential terms and without admission of liability.

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

RTE made no comment.

The Bermingham report into the Grangegorman affair was published in August 2006 and Mr Rabbitte appeared on the RTE programme to discuss it and the previous report by Judge Freddie Morris on garda corruption in Donegal.

Detective Garda Bailey was one of three gardai singled out for praise in the Bermingham report for having expressed misgivings prior to Dean Lyons being charged with the murder of Mary Callinan, 61, who was stabbed to death along with Sylvia Shields, 59, at their home in the Grangegorman psychiatric complex in March 1997.

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The murder charge against Dean Lyons, who was 24 at the time when he was wrongly charged, was eventually dropped in February 1998.

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