Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said he had “no hand” in determining how RTÉ dealt with a recent defamation case over comments he made on air.
The broadcaster made an out of court settlement with a retired detective over comments made by Mr Rabbitte in 2006 relating to the wrongful charging of Dublin man Dean Lyons for a double murder in 1997.
Mr Rabbitte told the Seanad yesterday he wanted to respond to comments made by Fianna Fáil senator Terry Layden, who said it was a “coincidence” the settlement was made the same day the minister met the RTÉ board.
“The case was settled — lo and behold — the day the minister met the RTÉ authority last Tuesday 8 May 2012, and then the RTÉ authority was not abolished,” he said.
Mr Rabbitte said the settlement was made on confidential terms and without admission of liability. He said he understood reports that it was in the region of €100,000 were inaccurate.
“I was not even aware of this case until a matter of weeks before it was listed for hearing. I had no hand in determining the manner in which it was defended or settled,” he said.
The case related to remarks he made on radio about the manner in which his constituent, Mr Lyons, confessed to gardaí to a crime he did not commit.
Mr Lyons, who has since died of a heroin overdose, was aged 24 at the time and had an intellectual disability.
The Birmingham Report said Mr Lyons was “able to provide accurate details of murders it is now accepted that he did not commit, due to the manner in which he was interviewed by gardaí”.
Mr Rabbitte said he fully accepted the now retired detective Alan Bailey, who took the action “not only experienced reservations” about how Mr Lyons was interviewed “but expressed them at the time”.
He said it remains a “troubling case” and “all the circumstances of the affair more than justify my involvement in ensuring that as much as possible of the details should be brought to public attention”.
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