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RTE insists it did not pay Michaella McCollum for interview

By Nevin Farrell

Published 04/04/2016

Michaella McCollum in the RTE interview broadcast last night
Michaella McCollum in the RTE interview broadcast last night
Michaella McCollum Connolly in one of her club hostess outfits
Michaella McCollum after her arrest
CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Michaella and Melissa caught on CCTV loading bags into a car in Peru
Michaella McCollum's mother Norah McCollum and sister Samantha McCollum vist the Peru prison
Melissa Reid
Michaella McCollum and ex-boyfriend Dwayne Mullan
Dungannon drugs mule Michaella McCollum
PARTY SCENE: Michaella in Ibiza
Michaella McCollum Connolly in one of the Ibiza clubs where she worked as a dancer
Michaella McCollum Connolly, handcuffed, arrives for a court hearing in Lima, Peru, clutching the book 'Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know: Ten principles for spiritual and emotional fulfillment' (AP Photo/Karel Navarro)
Michaella McCollum Connolly arrives to court for her sentencing in Callao, Peru (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
Police escort Michaella McCollum Connolly (right) and Melissa Reid (front) in handcuffs as they are moved from the National Police anti-drug headquarters to a court to be formally charged for drug trafficking in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013
Michaella McCollum Connolly with reality TV star Mark Wright at a promotional night hosted by Belfast's M Club
Michaella McCollum Connolly with Brad Houston from England
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly with rugby star Tommy Bowe while doing promotional work at an official Ulster Rugby event

RTE last night insisted it did not pay convicted drug smuggler Michaella McCollum for an interview broadcast in a Sunday evening prime-time slot.

The Tyrone woman was interviewed by Trevor Birney from Northern Ireland-based Fine Point Films. RTE would not comment on any costs accrued by Mr Birney or Fine Point Films but insisted a fee to McCollum did not make up part of the payment. The spokesman also said the interview was produced by RTE's in-house Factual Team.

"It's an RTE production - the guy doing the interview, Trevor Birney is from Fine Point. He's working for us.

"Nobody paid for the interview. Categorically, nobody paid for the interview. Trevor Birney is just a producer/director from that part of the world and has done a lot of that kind of work," he added.

"It's an RTE production and Michaella McCollum was not paid."

The spokesman couldn't confirm whether the interviewer was working for RTE directly or through Fine Point. RTE also refused to divulge what other costs were accrued in interviewing the convicted drug smuggler. "Any other staffing/production costs would be commercially sensitive and not for disclosure," it added.

There was criticism from viewers of McCollum's dramatic new look with her bun-style black hair replaced by blonde locks. One said she looked like a "glamorous young blonde - every inch the 'model' prisoner out shopping". Meanwhile, there is speculation McCollum will make a fortune from her story from paid-for newspaper interviews and even a book and a film.

Book scout and managing director of Dublin's The Inkwell Group, Vanessa O'Loughlin, believes McCollum has an "incredible story". She added: "It could be of huge interest to the publishing industry. From press reports it certainly appears to have all the elements that will keep a reader hooked to the end of the book.

"With help from a good ghostwriter this could be an exciting prospect. If it sold well she could potentially sell the movie rights. It's impossible to say at this stage what that might mean in financial terms," she told the Sun on Sunday.

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