Belfast Telegraph

Ex-BBC NI chief to probe RTE show

The former controller of BBC Northern Ireland has been appointed to investigate the defamation of a priest on RTE.

Anna Carragher will probe the Prime Time Investigates programme, Mission To Prey, which wrongly accused Father Kevin Reynolds of raping a minor and fathering a child while working in Kenya 30 years ago.

The programme was broadcast on May 23 despite denials by Fr Reynolds, who offered to undergo a paternity test.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) said Ms Carragher has been appointed investigating officer for the inquiry, which was ordered by Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.

It will examine whether the programme segments dealing with Fr Reynolds breached the Broadcasting Act.

RTE later made a full apology to the cleric and accepted the allegations were baseless, without any foundation, and untrue. The Galway-based priest - who had been forced to step down from his parish for almost six months - accepted an out-of-court settlement for the libel.

BAI said Ms Carragher has produced and edited numerous news and current affairs programmes for BBC radio and television. As controller of BBC Northern Ireland from 2000 to 2006, she was editorially responsible for all BBC Northern Ireland output.

She is also a member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which is responsible for regulating artificial reproduction in the UK, and is a commissioner for the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Ed Mulhall, managing director of RTE news and current affairs, moved aside when the BAI was appointed to probe the damning errors, while editor of current affairs, Ken O'Shea, stepped down temporarily.

RTE said it will fully cooperate with the BAI investigation. Director general Noel Curran and chairman of the RTE board Tom Savage said they also acknowledged a formal request by the BAI that the broadcaster does not release the findings of any internal reports or investigations until BAI's own statutory investigation has been completed.

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