The lawyer who cleared the name of missionary priest Fr Kevin Reynolds is ready to take on Irish state broadcaster RTE again – this time to discover the source of the libellous claims against his client.
Robert Dore successfully sued the Irish television and radio station on Fr Reynold’s behalf after a TV programme claimed the Galway priest had raped a Kenyan teenager in 1982, made her pregnant and abandoned both mother and child.
Dore won damages worth over $1.5million for the 65-year-old priest and an apology from RTE but now he wants the station to reveal who supplied the allegations to reporter Aoife Kavanagh and the Prime Time Investigates programme.
“I think the premise of journalistic confidentiality in this particular instance is flawed,” said Dore who worked for Fr Reynolds on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis.
Pointing out that Fr Reynolds had repeatedly denied the allegations and had offered to take a paternity test before RTE broadcast the programme, Dore confirmed that the case may be closed but his quest for justice on behalf of his client isn’t.
He is adamant that he wants the station to name what they told him was a ‘very credible third party source’ as Fr Reynolds settles back into life as a parish priest in the Galway village of Ahascragh.
“I am very interested to know who the very reliable independent third-party source is and intend to find out,” added the solicitor.
“I hope to get instructions from my client on this matter. The law is with us in pursuing the person’s identity.
“If there is a loose cannon prepared to make malicious statements against Fr Reynolds, they could make such statements against another person.”
Dore also wants an explanation as to why journalist Aoife Kavanagh and not the RTE legal department replied to initial letters from Fr Reynold’s legal team.
“There are questions to be answered in this instance as well,” he said.
“It seems to me a very basic position that if a solicitor writes to RTÉ protesting about particular matters that at least it would go to the legal department in RTÉ and the legal department would respond.”
Referring to the Church’s decision to stand Fr Reynolds down from parish duty while his legal case was ongoing, Dore was critical of the church’s treatment of accused priests.
“Priests must prove their innocence which flies in the face of all concepts of fair procedures,” he said.
State broadcaster RTE has confirmed that it is investigating the circumstances which led to the claims being broadcast on television and repeated on radio.
An RTE spokesperson said: “We are reviewing the production of the Prime Time Investigates programme and steps and decision that led to it being broadcast in defamatory form. An independent expert review is being carried out.”