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Tuesday 26 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland Candidates in toe 2011 presidential election line up on The Frontline.
# The Frontline
RTÉ wants Seán Gallagher's e-mails to defend itself against his 'tweetgate' lawsuit
Gallagher claims the 2011 Frontline debate was unfair.

JUDGEMENT HAS BEEN reserved in RTÉ’s bid to dismiss businessman Sean Gallagher’s action against it which was initiated following the ‘tweetgate’ incident during the presidential election campaign.

In a pre-trial application, RTÉ has argued the case should be halted because, it claims, Gallagher has failed to comply with orders to give it certain material which the broadcaster says is relevant to the case. Alternatively, RTÉ wants an order compelling Gallagher to comply in full with his discovery obligations.

The material includes communications such as e-mails and documents generated during the course of Gallagher’s campaign to be elected president. Mr Gallagher, a former ‘Dragon’ on RTE’s Dragon’s Den programme, has opposed the application.

Niall Buckley BL, for Mr Gallagher, said the businessman has largely complied with the discovery process. Counsel also said that certain material sought by RTÉ was either unavailable, and was irrelevant and peripheral to the central issues in the dispute.

In reply Douglas Clarke Bl, for RTÉ, rejected this and said the discovery of the material was essential if the case is to proceed. Mr Gallagher’s failure to discover the material sought was manifestly prejudicial to RTÉ’s defence of the action, counsel added.

In reserving his decision Mr Justice David Keane said he would “very carefully study” the submissions the parties had put before the court. The judge did not say when he would be in a position to deliver his judgment.

In his action, Mr Gallagher seeks a declaration the October 2011 RTÉ Frontline debate involving the election candidates was deliberately and unfairly edited and presented and directed by RTÉ in order to damage his electoral prospects.

He claims the broadcast was neither objective, impartial nor fair to his interests. He is also claiming damages for alleged breach of statutory duty, negligence and misfeasance in public office.

His claim includes a claim for exemplary damages arising from comments allegedly made by broadcaster Pat Kenny in relation to “tweetgate”.

RTE denies the claims and also pleads Mr Gallagher damaged his election prospects because of the manner in which he responded to particular assertions.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing. 

Read: Seán Gallagher issues legal proceedings against RTÉ over Frontline debate >

Read: RTÉ head: ‘Impossible to say’ whether Frontline debate changed election >

Aodhan O Faolain