The Disclosures Tribunal's third interim report has found that RTÉ's crime correspondent was not acting under the direction of Garda Headquarters when he reported in advance of the publication of the O'Higgins Commission report.

The tribunal examined a series of RTÉ broadcasts from 9 May 2016 based on the then unpublished O'Higgins Commission report.

It investigated whether then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan influenced or attempted to influence the broadcasts.

In his report Mr Justice Peter Charleton said Paul Reynolds went about his job as "an intelligent and independent reporter".

Mr Reynolds told the Tribunal he obtained a number of copies from different sources to cross-reference and satisfy himself that it was the final report.

The report states: "The reference to Maurice McCabe telling a "lie" in an official report occurred in the reports by Paul Reynolds on the Morning Ireland radio programme and on the one o’clock television news.

"This related to a passage in the O’Higgins Commission report which said that Maurice McCabe had told an "untruth" in a report to a superior officer."

It finds that in no sense was he a tool of the higher echelons of Garda Headquarters.

It goes on to say that Mr Reynolds was entitled to his view on the O'Higgins Commission upon his examination of a leaked copy of the report.

In his report, Mr Charleton also said the tribunal had the greatest difficulty in getting any information from journalists generally.

Superintendent David Taylor initially supplied a list of nine journalists to the tribunal whom he claimed were negatively briefed by him against Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

The tribunal is not convinced that any of those journalists were ever egged on in publishing negative stories about Sgt McCabe, or even in thinking less of him. 

Supt Taylor subsequently added the names of two more journalists, Eavan Murray and Debbie McCann, to the list.

The tribunal says Supt Taylor tried to keep their names away from the tribunal to minimise his own role in the scandal.

Judge Charleton also says it was extraordinary that Supt Taylor did not mention the journalist Cathal McMahon as a journalist he negatively briefed, but when Mr McMahon was called before the tribunal, Supt Taylor suggested he did smear Sgt McCabe to him.

Judge Charleton said Mr McMahon's testimony bore a striking resemblance to that of journalist Paul Williams, and concludes that they told the truth that they weren't negatively briefed, but Supt Taylor did not.

The tribunal wrote to 28 journalists individually, and says that with one exception, no answer was given to the complete set of questions at the time.

Judge Charleton says the tribunal is grateful to the journalists who eventually cooperated with it, regards the delay in their co-operation as regrettable, and as a frustration of the public will.

The tribunal also said its work was frustrated by three journalists from the Irish Examiner; Cormac O'Keeffe, Juno McEnroe and Daniel McConnell.

On RTÉ broadcaster Philip Boucher-Hayes, the tribunal finds as a fact that he is telling the truth and that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Supt Taylor are not.

Mr Boucher-Hayes previously told the tribunal that Mr Callinan said he could tell him the worst kind of things about Sgt McCabe, and that he had psychological and psychiatric issues.

Additional reporting: Juliette Gash