QUEENAN FIGHTS BACK

The Sligo Champion - - FRONT PAGE -

LAWYERS for former Fianna Fail Coun­cil­lor have ac­cused RTE In­ves­ti­gates of try­ing to “honey-trap” their client as part of a jour­nal­is­tic sting in to breaches of the lo­cal author­ity plan­ning process.

Mr Queenan is fac­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Stan­dards in Pub­lic Office Com­mis­sion (SIPO) over sev­eral al­leged breaches of con­duct in re­la­tion to a RTE In­ves­ti­gates un­der­cover re­port.

Bar­ris­ter for Mr Queenan Michael O’Con­nor pointed out that an un­der­cover re­porter un­der the pseu­do­nym ‘Nina Carlson’ “is seen with her but­ton opened dur­ing her meet­ing with Mr Queenan and then closes her blouse af­ter her meet­ing”.

Mr O’Con­nor asked the RTE cam­era su­per­vi­sor re­spon­si­ble for the pro­gramme whether it was part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that she show her cleav­age.

Dur­ing his ev­i­dence, cam­era op­er­a­tor Cedric Cul­leton said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion com­plied with the sta­tion’s code of con­duct for jour­nal­ists.

He added it would be nor­mal pro­ce­dure to ad­just a con­cealed lapel mi­cro­phone be­fore or af­ter a record­ing.

Mean­while, dur­ing his ev­i­dence to the in­quiry, se­nior re­porter for RTE In­ves­ti­gates Conor Ryan who led the in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­scribed as “of­fen­sive” the sug­ges­tion that any­one would tell a woman to un­but­ton her blouse in a pro­fes­sional ca­pac­ity.

Mr Queenan was put un­der the im­pres­sion he was speak­ing to a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of ‘Vinst Op­por­tu­ni­ties’ a group of in­ter­na­tional in­vestors hop­ing to ex­plore op­por­tu­ni­ties in build­ing wind­farms in Ire­land.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tive named only as Nina Carlson was work­ing as a re­porter with Prime Time.

It is al­leged he agreed to act as an in­ter­me­di­ary on be­half of the fic­ti­tious com­pany.

Mr Queenan is ac­cused of fail­ing to have re­gard to and be guided by code of con­ducted for coun­cil­lors and be­ing will­ing to as­sist in plan­ning process for an award.

The hear­ings were de­layed by a cou­ple of hours this morn­ing as Mr Queenan’s lawyers at­tempted to halt pro­ceed­ings on the ba­sis that they con­tra­vened his right to a fair trial.

His lawyers ar­gued that be­cause that the iden­tity of the un­der­cover re­porter would re­main pro­tected by RTE meant she can­not be cross-ex­am­ined through­out the hear­ing.

This claim was de­nied and the case was al­lowed to pro­ceed on the ba­sis the re­porter was not the com­plainant in this case, as it was Sligo County Coun­cil which has re­ferred the mat­ter to SIPO for in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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