Judge hearing pre-trial matters in Declan Ganley defamation case

RTÉ denies claims that 2008 ‘Prime Time’ programme defamed him

Declan Ganley: his defamation action against RTÉ was initiated in 2012 and a trial date has yet to be set. Photograph: Eric Luke

Declan Ganley: his defamation action against RTÉ was initiated in 2012 and a trial date has yet to be set. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

A High Court judge is dealing with a number of pre-trial matters in defamation proceedings brought against RTÉ by businessman Declan Ganley. Mr Ganley claims a November 2008 RTÉ Prime Time programme defamed him in using words or innuendo which, he alleges, meant he had links to organised crime; had falsely claimed to be a paid adviser to the Latvian government; was somehow involved in the death of a man with whom he had a close business relationship; caused a fund to lose the life savings of thousands of Albanian pensioners and was covertly working for the US Central Intelligence Agency and/or “an ill-defined group known as ‘Neocons’.”

RTÉ denies defamation or that the words complained of meant what Mr Ganley alleges. The broadcaster has also pleaded truth or justification and that the “sting” of the words, taken as a whole, was that Mr Ganley had a tendency to make false or exaggerated claims in respect of business or other matters.

The defamation action was initiated in 2012 and a trial date has yet to be set.

At the High Court on Tuesday, three pre-trial motions, two by Mr Ganley and one by RTÉ, opened before Mr Justice Max Barrett. In his motions, Mr Ganley, represented by Paul Burns SC and Declan Doyle SC, wants to have aspects of RTÉ’s defence struck out, including that Mr Ganley had a tendency to make false or exaggerated claims in business matters, which he denies.

He also seeks orders requiring RTÉ to comply with discovery orders previously made by the court, which his lawyers claim it has not done. RTÉ opposes those applications and has itself applied to have Mr Ganley cross-examined about issues arising from documents discovered in the case.

RTÉ, represented by Paul O Higgins SC and Luán O Braonáin SC, says the businessman, who has sworn three affidavits on discovery, has not made proper and full discovery. In response to Mr Ganley’s motion, RTÉ says it has filed an affidavit of discovery and documents with the High Court under seal, and argues those materials should not be made available to Mr Ganley and his lawyers until he has made full and proper discovery.

Mr Ganley denies he has failed to make full and proper discovery.

The hearing is expected to last for three days.