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Ireland's Broadcasting Authority will investigate RTE's libel of Father Kevin Reynolds. (credit: BAI.Ie)

RTE is apologizing again for its libelous claims that a Catholic priest raped “an underage girl” and fathered her child.  RTE also issued a statement Nov. 23 calling the error “the most serious editorial question that has arisen since the late 1960s.”

According to the Irish Times, the repeated apology is in response to criticism of the “quality of the original broadcast.”

As StinkyJournalism has written, RTE, Ireland’s public broadcaster, aired a program accusing Father Reynolds of raping a Kenyan girl and fathering her child.  He denied the allegations prior to the program’s airing and offered to take a paternity test, but RTE still aired the program.  He successfully sued for libel and RTE reportedly paid “more than €1 million, including costs” to Father Reynolds.  RTE has also asked Ireland’s press ombudsman, John Horgan, to review RTE’s “editorial processes.”

According to RTE’s Nov. 23 statement, Ireland’s Broadcasting Authority is also investigating how the story made it to air.  “The purpose of the Director General’s inquiry is to establish the sequence of events, journalistic practice, and editorial decisions which led to the broadcast” of the program, according to the statement.

The investigation should last about two months, according to RTE.

Father Kevin Reynolds, an Irish priest, called for “justice” after RTE’s libelous report about him, the Irish Independent reported.

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According to the Irish Independent, Father Reynolds hasn’t announced what further action he may take to determine who the “credible third-party source” RTE used to support the rape and child claims.

Further, Father Reynolds called for RTE to demonstrate accountability in its report.  According to the Irish Independent, two RTE editors — RTE News Managing Director Ed Mulhall and Current Affairs Editor Ken O’Shea — have “temporarily stepped aside” while RTE looks into how the claims against Father Reynolds ended up aired.

Father Reynolds commented that his purpose in bringing the libel charges against RTE was “to be clearly vindicated” and now he wants to resume his “normal life and enjoy the parish here.”  According to an RTE report, Father Reynolds described the effect of the report, which caused him to temporarily step down from his parish priest post, as having “destroyed” him.

StinkyJournalism is writing to Ireland’s Broadcasting Authority to learn more about its investigation and will update with any response.

UPDATE: 11/28/2011 9:46 AM EST: Ireland’s Broadcasting Authority’s Brian Furey told StinkyJournalism by e-mail: “The BAI has confirmed that it received a request from the Minister on this matter. The BAI and the Compliance committee will now consider the request. I have no further update at present.”

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RTE to Repeat Libel Apology to Father Kevin Reynolds, Ireland’s Broadcasting Authority to Investigate Error

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