RHI inquiry: Chair urges 'balanced' media coverage as he warns against 'sensationalism' of some reporting

Retired appeal court judge Sir Patrick Coghlin is chairing the inquiry into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Scheme. Picture by Mal McCann
John Monaghan

THE chair of the public inquiry into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme has urged the media to cover proceedings in "a fair, balanced and objective way" after raising concerns about the "sensationalism" of some reporting.

On Tuesday, there was widespread media coverage of the inquiry after David Sterling, the current head of the civil service who was formerly the permanent secretary at DETI, claimed that some meetings were not minuted in order to avoid Freedom of Information (FOI) disclosures.

The senior civil servant said that the DUP and Sinn Féin were "sensitive to criticism" and it was "safer" not to have a record which might be released through FOI requests.

At the start of Thursday's session, Sir Patrick Coghlin said: "You will recall that at the start of the these hearings I emphasised the importance of dealing with the proceedings in a fair, balanced and objective way.

"I am a little concerned about the possibility of sensationalism arising.

"Nobody is on trial. There is no power for this inquiry to impose civil liability," added Sir Patrick.

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