Timeline: Mission to Prey
A Prime Time team travels to Kenya to research allegations – later proven to be false – that Fr Kevin Reynolds raped a minor while working as a missionary in Africa and fathered a child by her.
MAY 7th, 2011
Fr Reynolds is approached by a team from Prime Time Investigates. He denies the allegations put to him by the reporter. He later instructs his solicitors to write to RTÉ seeking an immediate retraction of the allegations and an apology for the distress caused to him.
MAY 23rd, 2011
RTÉ broadcasts the Mission to Prey programme, despite an offer from Fr Reynolds prior to the broadcast to undertake a paternity test to provide a definitive answer to the allegations.
JULY 5th, 2011
After his lawyers wrote a series of letters over the course of June, Fr Reynolds announces plans to seek a High Court order aimed at prompting RTÉ to provide its defence to his claim of innocence.
SEPTEMBER 22nd, 2011
The High Court hears that two paternity tests show that Fr Reynolds is not the father of the Kenyan woman.
OCTOBER 6th, 2011
RTÉ issues a lengthy apology to Fr Reynolds. “He was entirely innocent of the allegations broadcast about him,” it states. On his reinstatement to his parish the following weekend, he receives standing ovations from his congregation and says the apology has “freed” him from “lies, false allegations and baseless accusations”.
NOVEMBER 15th, 2011
Press Ombudsman Prof John Horgan is appointed to carry out an independent review of RTÉ’s editorial process arising out of its handling of the case. Two days later, RTÉ settles a defamation case. It is understood to cost the broadcaster around €1 million in legal fees and damages. Later, RTÉ’s head of communications Kevin Dawson indicates there will not be dismissals arising from the case.
NOVEMBER 22nd, 2011
The Government orders an independent inquiry into the circumstances of RTÉ’s defamation of Fr Reynolds by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
RTÉ announces that the Prime Time Investigates series is being shelved. It also says that managing director of RTÉ news and current affairs, Ed Mulhall, and the editor of the Prime Time Investigates programme, Ken O’Shea, are stepping aside from their posts until the conclusion of the inquiry. In addition, reporter Aoife Kavanagh and executive producer Brian Páircéir will not be involved in any on-air programming until the inquiry is completed.
TUESDAY, APRIL 3rd, 2012
RTÉ announces that its head of current affairs Ed Mulhall has retired and editor of Prime Time Investigates Ken O’Shea has resigned from the programme. It also announces that the Prime Time Investigates programme is to be scrapped and replaced with new investigative television documentaries. A new current affairs investigation unit will be set up supplying television, radio and online.
THURSDAY, APRIL 5th, 2012
The BAI furnishes RTÉ with the report of its independent investigation into the programme. The station is given 14 days to respond or make submissions.