ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan is suing TV3 for defamation over comments made by broadcaster Vincent Browne, the High Court has heard.
The minister claims he was defamed on the Tonight with Vincent Browne programme on May 20 last year in an exchange between the broadcaster and Fine Gael TD and now Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan.
Mr Browne allegedly described Mr Hogan as “a bigoted racist” arising out of representations made by the minister on behalf of a constituent over the suitability of a family, who are members of the Travelling community, for a vacant council house in Co Kilkenny.
Mr Hogan says the remarks had meanings including that he was prejudiced towards Travellers had breached the Incitement to Hatred Act and was not suitable for his role as minister or as a TD,
He says the remarks have damaged his reputation and caused him extreme stress. He is seeking damages and a correction order.
TV3 denies his claims on grounds including that Mr Browne’s statements consisted of an opinion honestly held.
In a pre-trial application to the High Court yesterday, Mr Hogan asked for an order amending his original statement of claim.
After checking a number of factual matters, several needed to be clarified, his counsel, Rossa Fanning said. These included interactions between him and Kilkenny County Council.
TV3 opposed the application. It was argued that the minister, in seeking to amend his claim, was seeking to “gloss over” serious factual inaccuracies.
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan ruled that Mr Hogan was entitled to amend his statement of claim.
The case will be listed for hearing before a judge and jury at a future date.