RTÉ report on Denis O’Brien may be broadcast in part

Judge says matters derived from ’legally privileged information’ may not be included

A planned RTÉ broadcast about the banking affairs between businessman Denis O’Brien and State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation may proceed in part as a result of orders made by the High Court on Wednesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

A planned RTÉ broadcast about the banking affairs between businessman Denis O’Brien and State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation may proceed in part as a result of orders made by the High Court on Wednesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

 

A planned RTÉ broadcast about the banking affairs between businessman Denis O’Brien and State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation may proceed in part as a result of orders made by the High Court.

Any matters which derive from legally privileged information cannot be included in the RTÉ broadcast or any other publications, Mr Justice Donald Binchy directed.

RTÉ had argued the particular matters subject of IBRC’s objection were effectively already in the public domain as a result of a Dáil speech by Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty.

IBRC’s counsel Andrew Fitzpatrick BL said one paragraph of the report did reflect what Mr Doherty said but two other paragraphs derived from legal advice.

Mr Justice Binchy agreed with IBRC and said the two paragraphs should not be published in their current form. He added he wanted to stress that whatever Mr Doherty said in the Dáil can be published.

The judge also directed the sides should pay their own costs of the hearing arising from RTÉ’s application to vary the order.

While the court had refused to fully discharge the order, it was reasonable for RTÉ to make its application given the developments, Mr O’Brien and IBRC had had to respond to an evolving situation and Mr Doherty’s Dáil speech had changed the picture insofar as the legal advice issue was concerned, he said.

Mr O’Brien and IBRC had obtained injunctions last month, pending the outcome of full legal proceedings,  restraining the planned broadcast.

However, as a result of matters said in the Dáil, the businessman’s lawyers later agreed, as the information in the report was in the public domain, the broadcast can proceed. They objected, however, to publication of any additional information RTÉ might have which is not in the public domain.

That agreement was reflected in the final orders made on Wednesday by Mr Justice Binchy arising from his refusal last week of RTÉ’s application to fully discharge the injunction.

The judge refused full discharge on grounds including RTÉ’s failure to undertake not to publish, pending the full action, any additional information it may have related to the businessman’s banking affairs with IBRC.

He also refused to vacate to the order to an extent that would allow RTÉ publish information deriving from legal advice. IBRC opposed publication of any information deriving from and also argued that confidentiality applies to the banking relationship between it and Mr O’Brien and the bank is obliged to protect that.

The judge had said he would amend the injunction orders to reflect developments since it was made, including speeches to the Dáil by Independent TD Catherine Murphy and Mr Doherty concerning the banking relationship between Mr O’Brien and IBRC.

Separately, Mr O’Brien has initiated different proceedings against the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and the State arising from the Dáil utterances relating to his banking affairs with IBRC.

A statement of claim has yet to be filed but it is believed Mr O’Brien will argue the effect of those utterances was to decide in whole or in part the case against RTÉ. He claims this amounts to interference with the operation of the courts and breaches his rights under the Constitutgion and European Convention on Human Rights.