QUEENAN FIGHTS BACK
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.