Belfast Telegraph

RTE given Reynolds report deadline

The board of RTE has been given one week to file a report on all steps it is taking to prevent a repeat of the defamatory Mission to Prey programme.

Senior management at the State broadcaster have also been tied into writing monitoring reviews for Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte every three months.

The close scrutiny was agreed at a two hour morning meeting between the minister and the 13 board members in Montrose amid the fallout from the Fr Kevin Reynolds affair. During the meeting, which was described as a frank exchange, no resignations from the board were offered or demanded, the minister said.

RTE was fined 200,000 euro and reporter Aoife Kavanagh quit after a media watchdog found the Prime Time Investigates show carried damaging and untrue allegations about the missionary priest by wrongly accusing him of raping a minor and fathering a child while working in Kenya 30 years ago.

During the meeting Mr Rabbitte said that the board reaffirmed that a grievous wrong had been done to Fr Reynolds and that RTE was gravely at fault.

The first detailed report from the RTE board will set out all steps being taken to address the serious systemic shortcomings exposed in the controversy.

The quarterly reports will measure how the new processes and arrangements are being embedded into the organisation as a whole, the minister said.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) report published last Friday evening criticised the secret filming of Fr Reynolds and the lack of note taking during research and production, and highlighted the significant failure of editorial and managerial controls within the organisation.

Fr Reynolds, who had threatened to sue before the Mission To Prey programme was broadcast, was later cleared when two tests proved he was not the child's father. The station made an out-of-court settlement with the priest, believed to be about one million euro (£800,000).

Prime Time Investigates was taken off-air for good in the aftermath of the defamation scandal.

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