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File photo Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

BAI Compliance Committee found A Mission to Prey "fair"

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland investigated the show following a complaint from a man who took part in filming for the programme, but was unhappy with how his interview was used.

THE PRIME TIME Investigates programme Mission to Prey has already been the focus of a Broadcasting Authority of Ireland investigation.

The BAI’s Compliance Committee received a complaint last year from a man who was interviewed for the show.

The man, who is not named in the document, complained about the fact that his interview was not used in A Mission to Prey and instead a short clip of it was used on The Frontline the same night.

He said it was placed in a “much reduced and disconnected segment” of The Frontline and that his involvement caused “great suffering, embarrassment and difficulty”.

During his interview, the man had said he had been abused by missionary priests and that he was convinced that two of the clerics who abused him went on to abuse vulnerable children when working as missionaries in Africa.

This complaint was submitted under the  Broadcasting Act, 2009 section  48(1)(a)(fairness, objectivity and impartiality in current affairs).

RTÉ stated that they “sincerely regret any distress that their dealings with the complainant caused”.

The also said they very much regret that the events which led up to the complainant‟s contribution being excised from the final documentary caused him unnecessary distress.

RTÉ can understand his disappointment particularly when he found the telling of his own personal experience so emotionally draining.  But the decision was taken in the best interests of telling, in a coherent and effective manner, the overall story of abuse.

During their investigation into this, the BAI took a look at the Mission to Prey programme as a whole.

The committee said that what is important “is that the programme dealing with such matters makes every reasonable effort to present a range of significant viewpoints to the matter under discussion and be fair to all interests concerned”.

The Committee would acknowledge the sensitivity of the subject matter and, in particular, the gravity and extremely distressful nature of the subject matter to the complainant.

Regarding A Mission to Prey:

Overall, the Committee considered that the subject matter was treated fairly and the content was fair to all interests concerned.  There was a wide range of significant viewpoints included and the persons against whom allegations were made were afforded a right of reply

It found that the clip was used in  The Frontline programme in context and communicated the concerns of the complainant.

It said that it was of the view that, when linked with the Prime Time Investigates programme, “there was a reasonable connect and relevance with the extract from the interview and the subject matter as a whole”.

In this regard, the Committee found that the complainant was fairly portrayed in the programme as broadcast and the complaint was rejected.

The Prime Time Investigates programme, A Mission to Prey, was found to have defamed Fr Kevin Reynolds and the broadcaster made a settlement with the priest in the High Court.

The Government announced an inquiry into the programme earlier this month.

Read: RTÉ responds to “unsubstantiated” allegations claim>

Read: RTÉ suspends next season of Prime Time Investigates after Fr Reynolds case>

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