Final evidence given in libel case


The final evidence was given yesterday in a sacked Northern Ireland Water director’s High Court libel action against Sinn Féin.

Jurors will hear closing speeches before being asked to decide whether two of the party’s press releases defamed businessman Declan Gormley.

Mr Gormley was one of four non-executive board members dismissed from the government-owned company by Conor Murphy, the former Sinn Féin minister for regional development, in March 2010.

The move followed an independent review team investigation into how contracts were awarded. Mr Gormley emphatically denies any wrongdoing.

A subsequent Stormont Public Accounts Committee report into procurement and performance at NI Water criticised the earlier review and questioned its independence, the court has heard.

Mr Gormley is suing Sinn Féin and two of its representatives, MLA Cathal Boylan and former MLA Willie Clarke, over the contents of press releases issued in their names.

Lawyers for the defendants deny the statements contain any defamatory content.They also claim qualified privilege and argue that the press releases were in response to a campaign of nine attacks on Mr Murphy mounted by the SDLP with Mr Gormley’s collusion.

Closing submissions are expected to begin tomorrow and the case will be submitted to the jury.