Appeal dismissed over claim TV show idea was stolen

An appeal against the High Court rejection of a man’s claim that RTÉ and columnist Fiona Looney stole the idea for the reality show Celebrity Bainisteoir has been dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Patrick Kinsella, of Callohill, Newtown, Co Wicklow, who was not legally represented and conducted his own case, claimed he had submitted the original idea, entitled Top Coach/Top Team, to RTÉ in August 2007.

In 2011 at the High Court, Mr Justice George Birmingham dismissed Mr Kinsella’s claim that both RTÉ and Ms Looney had stolen his concept for the programme, where several Gaelic football club sides are coached in a competition by different celebrities.

In his decision, Mr Justice Birmingham said “he was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt” that Ms Looney was the originator of the idea behind Celebrity Bainisteoir. The idea, he said, was “Ms Looney’s and hers alone” and she was “entitled to have that recognised”.

During the hearing, Ms Looney and a number of RTÉ witnesses said the idea for the programme was first submitted to the broadcaster by her in 2004.

The judge said that evidence given by witnesses in the hearing “made it clear there was no merit whatsoever in his claims”. The judge also ordered that Mr Kinsella pay the legal costs of the seven-day hearing action.

He appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, arguing that the High Court decision should be set aside. RTÉ and Ms Looney, who denied the claims, had opposed the appeal.

Yesterday the Supreme Court, comprised of Chief Justice Susan Denham, Mr Justice William McKechnie, and Mr Justice John MacMenamin, dismissed the appeal.

Chief Justice Denham said Mr Kinsella had appealed to ensure his legal rights were not prejudiced. However, she said the court could see no reason to depart from the decision of the High Court.

All matters that had been put before the High Court had been properly considered and Mr Justice Birmingham was entitled to make the conclusions he had based on the evidence before him, she added.

In all the circumstances, Mr Kinsella’s appeal should be dismissed, the Supreme Court ruled.

The court also awarded costs in favour of Ms Looney and RTÉ against Mr Kinsella. Following the ruling, Mr Kinsella said he would appeal the decision to the European Courts.

Celebrity Bainisteoir was first broadcast in March 2008 until 2013.


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