Irish state broadcaster RTE is to be sued by beaten Presidential election candidate Sean Gallagher over the infamous Twitter row.
Gallagher’s legal team have confirmed to the Sunday Independent newspaper that legal proceedings have been issued against RTE.
The former candidate claims that his election hopes were severely damaged when RTE’s Frontline programme broadcast details of a tweet allegedly from a Sinn Fein account.
It later transpired that the tweet was bogus but Gallagher claims his hopes of winning the election were damaged by the tweet and allegations about his prior involvement with Fianna Fail fundraising.
The Sunday Independent report confirms that Gallagher has now issued legal proceedings against RTE arising out of the controversial Frontline presidential debate show.
The paper says that RTE also ordered Frontline presenter Pat Kenny not to repeat and to refrain from making further comments about Gallagher which were described by his lawyer Paul Tweed as ‘provocative’.
Tweed told the paper: “These proceedings will be vigorously prosecuted in order to bring this matter to a conclusion, once and for all.”
The report says that Gallagher is to ask Dublin’s High Court for a declaration that The Frontline debate, broadcast on October 24, 2011, was allegedly neither objective nor impartial nor fair to his interests.
The Sunday Independent also says he is to ask the High Court for a declaration that the broadcast was allegedly ‘deliberately and unfairly’ edited, presented and directed by RTE.
The state broadcaster has confirmed that a plenary summons was received on Friday.
The story says that RTE, in correspondence with Gallagher in November, rejected the substance of his claims and is expected to contest the High Court proceedings.
Gallagher is to seek damages for alleged breach of statutory duty, alleged negligence and breach of duty and alleged misfeasance in public office.
He will also seek aggravated and/or exemplary damages arising out of comments made by Kenny on a subsequent radio show.
Lawyer Tweed told the Sunday Independent: “In the absence of a satisfactory response to a detailed letter of claim, on the instructions of Sean Gallagher, I am arranging to issue legal proceedings against RTE on a number of grounds, including breach of their duty of care, negligence and breach of statutory duty.
“My client will be seeking a declaration from the court that the RTE Frontline Presidential Debate broadcast on October 24, 2011, was unfair and seriously damaged his electoral prospects.
“My client believes that he has been left with no alternative but to seek the assistance of the court, given RTE’s persistent refusal to offer any adequate or appropriate redress for what was the totally unacceptable conduct by them of The Frontline broadcast, and which has had dramatic and extremely serious consequences for my client.
“Furthermore, RTE had taken the extraordinary decision not to broadcast a corrective tweet received during the course of the debate from the Official Martin McGuinness Campaign Account, which would have set the record straight while the programme was still live on air.
“The recently published report arising from the internal review regarding the offending broadcast, and the publication of provocative comments by the programme’s presenter, have compounded my client’s resolve to seek appropriate redress in the High Court.”