Belfast Telegraph

Show defaming priest 'inexplicable'

The chairman of RTE has said he still finds it inexplicable that the hugely-damaging Mission to Prey programme in which Father Kevin Reynolds was defamed was allowed to air.

Tom Savage said there were grave and exceptional failures implicit in the case which raised questions that go to the very heart of the State broadcaster's public purpose.

He said RTE accepts the findings of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) report that found the station was guilty of failures in editorial and managerial controls over the now-defunct Prime Time Investigates.

"RTE accepts the findings and can offer no excuse," said Mr Savage.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called for Mr Savage to resign from his role as chairman, saying his position is untenable after the programme wrongfully accused Fr Reynolds of raping a woman and fathering a child in Kenya while a missionary 30 years ago.

The BAI fined RTE 200,000 euros and Fr Reynolds has been awarded compensation for damages to his reputation.

Several journalists involved in Mission to Prey have been been moved to new roles in RTE, presenter Aoife Kavanagh resigned and head of news Ed Mulhall retired early.

Fianna Fail's Eamon O Cuiv requested a breakdown of figures on how much of the taxpayer's money RTE has paid out on defamation cases.

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