Councillor in corruption scandal threatens to sue RTE for breaching right to privacy

John O'Donnell says the state broadcaster used selective editing "to serve their own sensationalist agenda"

Councillor in corruption scandal threatens to sue RTE for breaching right to privacy

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The Donegal councillor featured in last night’s RTE documentary on political corruption has said he may sue the State broadcaster for breaching his right to privacy in their undercover filming of him.

John O’Donnell has said he believes RTE used selective editing “to serve their own sensationalist agenda”.

The programme showed O’Donnell requesting money in exchange for helping getting planning permission for wind farms.

“It is my view that RTE have failed in their statutory obligation to provide a balanced report and instead have provided an edited version to serve their own sensationalist agenda.” Mr O’Donnell said in a statement.

O’Donnell says that any payments received in connection with the proposed project would have been to him as a businessman, and he would have disclosed them fully.

“The reference to a payment was, for the sake of clarity, on the basis that I, as a businessman, might be participating in any project that materialised from work that I would be completing as a businessman, and any payment for such work would be dealt with by a professional team that I would be putting together, and strictly in accordance with the law and the applicable ethical disclosure procedures,” he said. 

“Any reference to a payment to a third party was made in that context however I must add was done so without that third party’s knowledge, consent or agreement which I accept was incorrect and inappropriate. This position was made clear to RTE and accepted by RTE,” he added.

Mr O’Donnell also says he believed he was meeting RTE as a businessman, not in his capacity as a public representative.

Donegal County Council has begun an urgent internal investigation into the footage, where Councillor O'Donnell appeared to ask for money for a business partner in exchange for helping a planning application.

"I continue to reserve all my rights in relation to this matter and in particular to seek damages from RTE for flagrantly breaching and continuing to breach my constitutional and EU Law rights to privacy," he added.