RTÉ staffer associated with Late Late Show loses suspension bid after alleged ‘confrontation’
It was alleged Mr Brennan made ‘racist and homophobic’ remarks
An RTE staging operator, associated with major television shows such as the Late Late Show, has lost a bid to restrain the national broadcaster from suspending him without pay for three months and putting him on 18 months probation.
Barrister Maread McKenna told the Circuit Civil Court today that Jimmy Brennan had profusely apologised for a middle-of-the-night confrontation with security guards at the RTE complex on Saturday, February 12 last but shortly afterwards had withdrawn it and “absolutely refuted” any allegations against him.
Ms McKenna, who appeared with Ailbhe Moloney of Arthur Cox Solicitors for RTE, said Brennan had telephoned security at 2am telling them he had left his house keys in his locker at the station and asking to be allowed into the building to collect them.
Security had told him not to come as he seemed to be intoxicated but had turned up anyway and, having been refused admission, had climbed over the perimeter security barrier and entered the complex.
Ms McKenna said security still refused to allow him into the building but gardai had been called by Mr Brennan and they had recovered his keys. He had told gardai he was going to cycle home but the guards had told him they would not allow him to do so as they considered him too intoxicated to ride his bicycle.
She told Judge John O’Connor that Mr Brennan had allegedly told one of the security men to “go fuck off” and had made racist and homophobic remarks against one of them which Brennan had later denied.
“It was a serious incident and security was simply doing its job,” Ms McKenna said.
“Those are the facts of what happened although they have not been referred to by Mr Brennan in his application to the court. The facts are out there and RTE was entitled to investigate these matters.”
Ms McKenna said that on the following day, a Sunday, Mr Brennan, who had been employed by RTE since 2003, had provided a profuse apology by email stating that he wished to extend his apologies to security man Sean Hunt and stating that racial and homophobic allegations had been unacceptable and that he was ashamed. She told the court Mr Brennan had subsequently withdrawn his profuse apology.
She said RTE had set up an inquiry to establish the facts and it appeared Mr Brennan was eager to deal with the matter and was going to co-operate. Subsequently he had taken legal advice and from there on he had raised only legal issues at meetings and had gone down the wrong track.
“Matters became so legalistic that you would have thought we were dealing with a criminal trial,” Ms McKenna said.
Mr Brennan had demanded that RTE identify his accusers and allow him to face them, suggesting also that the broadcaster’s head of human resources and others had set about creating a conspiracy against him.
Barrister Jason Murray, who appeared with McCartan and Burke Solicitors for Mr Brennan, said he was shocked that such details should have been raised by Ms McKenna because none of them had been made out in any affidavit before the court.
Ms McKenna assured Judge O’Connor that, from all of the documentation, she would be able to stand over the facts as outlined by her..
Brennan had sought injunctions restraining RTE from imposing any proposed sanction arising from disciplinary board recommendations or withdrawing his employment duties until the determination at trial of his interlocutory motion for restraints.
Judge O’Connor, refusing Brennan’s applications, said he agreed almost 100 per cent with Ms McKenna’s submissions on the facts and the law as presented to the court on the grounds that any sanctions had already been put on hold by RTE and there was still an internal appeal process that Mr Brennan could avail of.
The judge said he considered Mr Brennan a gentleman and a fine person but the matter should never have come before the court. He said the internal process had not been irredeemably concluded and the court felt he had not met the legal test required to grant the reliefs he was seeking.
Brennan, who told the court that the rumour mill was in full flow and his reputation had been damaged, is also seeking damages for negligence and breach of contract and exemplary damages for conspiracy, infliction of economic harm and breach of privacy rights.
Judge O’Connor said the court would consider the matter of legal costs at a later date.
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