Watchdog dismisses High Society writer’s grievances

BROADCASTING watchdogs yesterday reignited the debate over RTÉ Television’s High Society programme alleging a government minister had taken cocaine.

Writer Justine Delaney-Wilson, whose book was the basis for the RTÉ show, complained her reputation, dignity and honour was unfairly attacked by RTÉ’s own journalists who questioned the truth of her claims.

She complained about an interview in which Radio One News at One anchor Seán O’Rourke grilled RTÉ editor Kevin Dawson about the programme. Ms Delaney-Wilson also said Radio One Drivetime host Mary Wilson was unusually aggressive when quizzing the writer’s solicitor on air.

Both radio programmes sought to establish whether the documentary was true and also looked at the unclear issue of whether an audio recording ever existed of the minister’s admissions.

Yesterday, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC) threw out both grievances, saying the broadcasts were fair as was a similar one by Newstalk’s George Hook. Yesterday, RTÉ said the rulings were a vindication of the way its own news journalists had sought to assess independently the widely questioned claims made by RTÉ in one of its own shows.

“Our defence [to the BCC] of the News at One and Drivetime was a defence of those programmes,” said a senior RTÉ spokesman yesterday.

“It was not a defence of or attack on High Society. No complaints were received by the BCC about High Society.”

He said the corporation stood by the programme High Society as well as news broadcasts investigating the documentary, which RTÉ has previously admitted had shortcomings.

Meanwhile, the BCC upheld a complaint against RTÉ Television after the comedy show I Dare Ya filmed a comedian in a straightjacket waiting for a taxi outside Dublin’s Central Mental Hospital.

* www.bcc.ie

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