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Secretive BAI may not reveal probe details

DETAILS of the probe into how RTE came to falsely accuse a priest of fathering a child may be censored, the Herald can reveal.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has finalised its report into the scandal and was today giving the national broadcaster its findings.

However, sources revealed that the public may not be told the full background of how the Prime Time Investigates programme came to defame Fr Kevin Reynolds.

The BAI's compliance committee has recommended to its executive that the full report compiled by ex-BBC Northern Ireland executive Anna Carragher be published.

But the Herald understands that there is "no obligation" on the BAI to do so.

"They may decide to simply issue a summary of their findings as happens in many other cases," explained a source.

There could be "any number of reasons including legal implications for why all the statements made to the inquiry would not be released into the public domain". The inquiry was ordered by Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte to see whether the false report about Fr Kevin Reynolds' fathering a child had breached the Broadcasting Act.

RTE now has 14 days to decide whether it will appeal the BAI's decision.

Fr Reynolds has won a substantial out-of-court settlement from RTE who also issued an apology in the High Court for their Mission To Prey programme.

Although RTE has two weeks to study the BAI's findings, station bosses are expected to respond more quickly than that. "Nobody wants to see this dragged out any further. The programme aired on May 18 last year. So for everybody's sake, it's time to put this to bed, deal with the repercussions and try to move on," said a station source.