Friday 14 December 2018

RTÉ's Reynolds denies any 'deep prejudice' against McCabe

Paul Reynolds at the Tribunal in Dublin. Photo: Collins
Paul Reynolds at the Tribunal in Dublin. Photo: Collins
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

RTÉ crime correspondent Paul Reynolds denied having a "deep prejudice" against Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe or that he was part of a "conspiracy" against him.

Mr Reynolds told the Disclosures Tribunal it was not true that in a series of 2016 reports he was "taking the Garda line" that it was fair to "put the boot into" Sgt McCabe.

He concluded his evidence yesterday.

Whether the RTÉ broadcasts were influenced by then Garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan is one of the issues being examined by the tribunal, which is investigating an alleged smear campaign by senior gardaí against Sgt McCabe.

Mr Reynolds is one of 11 journalists former Garda press officer Supt Dave Taylor claims to have negatively briefed about Sgt McCabe.

Mr Reynolds has denied this and said Garda Headquarters had "absolutely no influence" over him when he reported on May 9, 2016 on the leaked findings of the O'Higgins Commission report on policing failures.

He insisted the coverage was "fair and balanced".

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, put it to him that his reportage came after discussions with gardaí of various ranks, he was "taking the Garda line that the report was bad news for Sgt McCabe and it was fair to put the boot into him".

"I reject that totally," Mr Reynolds said. "The emails (with editors) show that we were very, very conscious that we needed to be fair to Sgt McCabe."

Sgt McCabe has complained that the reports branded him a "liar".

The tribunal heard the coverage stated Sgt McCabe "lied" about a case while the report itself stated he told an "untruth".

RTÉ's then-chief news editor Ray Burke told the tribunal Mr Reynolds asked him before publication if it could be said Sgt McCabe lied.

"I made an editorial decision to use the word lie," Mr Burke stated.

"I said, Paul, a deliberate untruth is a lie, you can use the word lie."

Garda human resources director John Barrett said he was not the "impeccable authority" Sgt McCabe claims told him that RTÉ's broadcasts were "planned and orchestrated" by Ms O'Sullivan.

Sgt McCabe is not withdrawing his claim, Mr McDowell said.

Irish Independent

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