‘Im­por­tant I didn’t favour any side’

RTÉ crime re­porter Paul Reynolds has told the Charleton tri­bunal his record speaks for it­self in re­port­ing on An Garda Síochána.

Irish Examiner - - News - Michael Clif­ford

Paul Reynolds wasn’t fed any scur­rilous stuff about Sergeant Mau­rice McCabe, he told the Dis­clo­sures Tri­bunal yes­ter­day.

RTÉ’s crime cor­re­spon­dent said none of the se­nior gar­daí at the cen­tre of the in­quiry ever told him about the dis­cred­ited al­le­ga­tion of child sex­ual abuse against the whistle­blower sergeant.

Mr Reynolds also de­nied that he was in­flu­enced by any­body in Garda head­quar­ters about a broad­cast he made on a leaked copy of the O’Hig­gins re­port, which dealt with Sgt McCabe’s com­plaints of mal­prac­tice. Sgt McCabe had claimed that Mr Reynolds had made a “bi­ased” broad­cast in which he branded the sergeant as a liar.

“I never branded him a liar,” Mr Reynolds told the tri­bunal.

He did broad­cast that the re­port had stated that Sgt McCabe told an “un­truth” to an­other of­fi­cer, ex­cept Mr Reynolds de­scribed this as a “lie”. This de­ci­sion was taken af­ter ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion with edi­tors and with dic­tio­nar­ies, which, said the re­porter, con­firmed to him that an un­truth is a lie.

“I tried to be ac­cu­rate, hon­est, fair, and im­par­tial as I could be and tried to give the pub­lic an ac­cu­rate re­flec­tion of what was in the re­port,” he said.

The broad­casts on May 9, 2016, form one of the terms of ref­er­ence of a tri­bunal ex­am­in­ing whether there were at­tempts to smear Sgt McCabe. He claims that Mr Reynolds’ broad­cast por­trayed the out­come of his com­plaints in a very un­fair way.

The tri­bunal is to ex­am­ine whether any in­flu­ence was brought to bear from Garda HQ, and Nóirín O’Sul­li­van, a for­mer Garda com­mis­sioner, in par­tic­u­lar, on the broad­casts. Mr Reynolds de­nies this ve­he­mently.

He spent most of yes­ter­day in the wit­ness box and will be back for more to­day.

The broad­casts were played for the in­quiry. As far as Mr Reynolds is con­cerned, the ma­te­rial was not in­flu­enced by any­body. He got his hands on a copy of the O’Hig­gins re­port and that the whole ba­sis of his story. He did ad­mit that he spoke to some con­tacts prior to the broad­cast but said none of that had any in­flu­ence on him.

“I spoke to a num­ber of peo­ple and I got var­i­ous in­for­ma­tion but the only in­for­ma­tion I put in the pub­lic do­main and pub­lished was based specif­i­cally on the con­tents of the O’Hig­gins re­port.”

The RTÉ crime cor­re­spon­dent is on a list supplied to the tri­bunal by the for­mer head of the Garda press of­fice, Supt Dave Tay­lor, who he claims are re­porters he briefed neg­a­tively about Sgt McCabe. All of those on the list have ei­ther de­nied any such brief­ing or are claim­ing jour­nal­is­tic priv­i­lege. Mr Reynolds is among the for­mer.

Supt Tay­lor has supplied very lit­tle in the way of specifics of how he briefed any re­porter.

Mr Reynolds was also asked yes­ter­day about his con­tacts with for­mer Garda com­mis­sioner Martin Cal­li­nan. The tri­bunal was shown a text from Mr Cal­li­nan to Supt Tay­lor, on the morn­ing of the com­mis­sioner’s res­ig­na­tion in March 2014. Mr Cal­li­nan texted Supt Tay­lor about his news: “Get it out quickly to the me­dia be­fore the fuck­ers do me. Tell Paul.”

Mr Reynolds ini­tially re­fused to con­firm that he had got a call from Supt Tay­lor that morn­ing, but then Judge Peter Charleton in­ter­vened: “An aw­ful lot of peo­ple are say­ing that Dave Tay­lor is ly­ing and I need to sit down and see what has been proved and what has not been proved and you’re frankly stand­ing in the way. I don’t see why.”

The wit­ness re­sponded that he wouldn’t dis­pute Supt Tay­lor on that point: “I’ll grant you that. If he says he rang me...”

Mr Reynolds was brought back to the meet­ing of the pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee in Jan­uary 2014 at which Mr Cal­li­nan is­sued his “dis­gust­ing” re­mark about the whistle­blower’s ac­tions.

The tri­bunal has al­ready heard that on that day, Mr Cal­li­nan made re­marks, rang­ing from dis­parag­ing to out­ra­geous, about Sgt McCabe to TDs John Deasy and John McGuin­ness, and comp­trol­ler and au­di­tor gen­eral Sea­mus McCarthy. Mr Cal­li­nan de­nies this.

Mr Reynolds was asked whether the com­mis­sioner spoke to him in Le­in­ster House that day. “I met him in the bath­room and he shook his head and knew he shouldn’t have said the word ‘dis­gust­ing’. There was no fur­ther con­ver­sa­tion with it.”

It was pointed out to Mr Reynolds that his fel­low RTÉ jour­nal­ist, Philip BoucherHayes, told the tri­bunal that in De­cem­ber 2013, Mr Cal­li­formed nan made dis­parag­ing re­marks to him about Sgt McCabe. (Mr Cal­li­nan also de­nies this).

Yet de­spite con­sid­er­able phone and text traf­fic be­tween Mr Reynolds and Mr Cal­li­nan, there was never a bad word ut­tered about Sgt McCabe. “Martin Cal­li­nan never spoke to me in any way deroga­tory about St McCabe. Never,” replied the wit­ness.

Other sources told him about the al­le­ga­tion made against Sgt McCabe in 2006 by the daugh­ter of a col­league, which ul­ti­mately was com­pre­hen­sively dis­missed by all in­ves­ti­gat­ing bod­ies. How­ever, these sources were just pro­vid­ing back­ground to Sgt McCabe’s story, and not us­ing the mat­ter to have a go at the whistle­blower.

“I never got the sense from peo­ple I was talk­ing to that they were pour­ing poi­son in my ear,” he said.

“There was no per­sis­tent ham­mer­ing away, giv­ing you neg­a­tive stuff about Sgt McCabe.”

His cross-ex­am­i­na­tion con­tin­ues to­day.

Pic­ture: Gareth Chaney

RTÉ crime cor­re­spon­dent Paul Reynolds at Dublin Cas­tle for the Dis­clo­sures Tri­bunal hear­ing yes­ter­day.

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