RTE could be facing further legal bills from the Mission to Prey programme that has already clocked up an estimated bill of €2m in costs, fees and fines for the state broadcaster.
The broadcaster settled a legal action last week taken by former Archbishop of Benin, Richard Burke, who claimed he was defamed in the Prime Time documentary at a cost of €338,000.
While RTE did not pay him damages, the Sunday Independent has learnt that the broadcaster has agreed to pay €275,000 towards Richard Burke’s legal fees, plus €53,000 in VAT. RTE had said it made a “contribution” to his costs, but Mr Burke’s lawyer said his client had “no exposure” to costs.
It was the second settlement arising from the Prime Time Mission to Prey programme, broadcast in 2011. Fr Kevin Reynolds had already received a confidential settlement – rumoured to be more than €1m between damages and legal fees – when he sued over false accusations that he raped a Kenyan teenager and fathered her child.
A third cleric, Bishop Philip Sulumeti, from Kenya, also instigated legal action against the broadcaster, claiming that he too was defamed in the programme. Robert Dore, the solicitor who acted for Fr Kevin Reynolds and for the former Archbishop Burke, is also representing Bishop Sulumeti.
Bishop Sulumeti has claimed that his inclusion in the Mission to Prey programme damaged his good name and his reputation. He was depicted as defending Fr Reynolds, whom RTE had wrongly accused of rape.