Seán Gallagher takes on RTÉ over ‘Tweetgate’

Former presidential hopeful Seán Gallagher, in his action against RTÉ, is seeking a declaration that the Frontline debate which sparked the ‘Tweetgate’ controversy was allegedly unfairly edited, and presented and directed in order to damage his electoral prospects.

Seán Gallagher takes on RTÉ over ‘Tweetgate’

A dispute over the extent of discovery of documents in Mr Gallagher’s legal action against RTÉ arising from the controversy came before the High Court yesterday.

Mr Gallagher is seeking a declaration that the Frontline debate in October 2011 was not objective, impartial, or fair to his interests. He is seeking damages for alleged breach of statutory duty, alleged negligence, and misfeasance in public office.

Mr Gallagher is also seeking exemplary damages arising out of alleged comments by presenter Pat Kenny in relation to Tweetgate.

RTÉ denies the claims. It says Mr Gallagher damaged his election prospects because of the manner in which he responded to assertions that he arranged for a group of people to meet with a now former taoiseach on the basis of a payment of €5,000 and that he called to the house of one of that group to deliver a photograph and to collect a cheque for €5,000.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland last year upheld a complaint relating to the debate, which was broadcast on October 24, 2011, in which Mr Gallagher responded to a fake tweet incorrectly attributed to the official ‘Martin McGuinness for President’ account.

Mr Kenny, put the tweet to Mr Gallagher, which resulted in him admitting he may have collected a donation for Fianna Fáil from a convicted fuel smuggler in Louth in 2006.

Mr Gallagher’s lawyers yesterday told Mr Justice Paul Gilligan they are unhappy with the scope of documents relating to the programme that RTÉ is prepared to make available.

Jim O’Callaghan, for Mr Gallagher, said his client is seeking discovery of various documents created between the date of the broadcast and November 18, 2012, when an internal RTÉ report was published.

Eileen Barrington, for RTÉ, said her client was happy to provide Mr Gallagher with all materials relevant to the claim.

However, Ms Barrington said Mr Gallagher’s request for discovery of materials generated over what is a 13-month period is broad and amounts to a “trawl” of documentation and would put the station to extra cost.

Mr Justice Gilligan yesterday reserved judgment on a decision.

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