RTÉ could cause O’Brien ‘irreparable harm’

Businessman Denis O’Brien claims he will suffer irreparable harm to the confidence that national and international banks have in him if RTÉ is allowed broadcast a report about his private banking affairs.

Mr O’Brien, in an affidavit to the High Court, said there is no public interest in RTÉ broadcasting details of his confidential banking arrangements with IBRC.

If broadcast, it would be a breach of his right to privacy under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights, he said.

RTÉ had information it obtained from a letter Mr O’Brien wrote to IBRC liquidator Kieran Wallace in 2013 about his private banking affairs, the court heard. There was no suggestion of any wrongdoing on Mr O’Brien’s part or that of anyone else.

Mr O’Brien is seeking an injunction preventing RTÉ from broadcasting the report, which was due to go out on May 1 but which has been postponed pending determination of the High Court proceedings.

Before the injunction bid was heard, Mr Justice Donald Binchy ruled that there should be restrictions on reporting of details of the application until he had determined whether to grant an injunction to Mr O’Brien.

It was agreed between the parties that restriction would apply to certain sections of RTÉ journalist David Murphy’s affidavit that refer to details of what the proposed broadcast would be.

Michael Cush, for Mr O’Brien, said that, under the agreed restriction order, it would be permissible for the media to report Mr O’Brien is “a major debtor of IBRC”.

It would also be permissible to report comments in the Dáil of TD Catherine Murphy, in which she stated Mr O’Brien’s loans had expired and referred to a letter to the IBRC liquidator that Mr O’Brien was seeking the same terms whereby IBRC allowed him to pay off the loans at low interest rates.

While there was an issue as to the accuracy of the TD’s statements, the O’Brien side could not resist publication, counsel said.

Earlier, David Holland, for RTÉ, said his client could not consent to reporting restrictions that would inhibit ordinary reporting of the courts, given RTÉ’s public role.

Michael Collins, for IBRC, which has a separate but related case against RTÉ, said his client wanted reporting restrictions extended to any legal advice given to IBRC which is contained in the court documents.

The case continues.

 

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