Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Billy Wright piper not subjected to harassment

Ruling ‘is landmark in freedom of Press’

A man who played the pipes at loyalist terror boss Billy Wright's funeral was not subjected to harassment by a tabloid newspaper, the High Court has ruled.

But a judge did find that the Sunday World misused some private information in a series of articles it published on Drew King, who was formerly charged with the murder of one of the paper’s journalists.

Mr Justice Weatherup's ruling, which bans publication of the 42-year-old's address or certain information about his family life, has been described as a landmark decision for Press freedom.

He held that publishing the identity of King's partner was in the public interest and that the use of a private photograph of the pair should not be restricted.

Mr King was one of three men to be formally accused of killing Martin O'Hagan, a Sunday World reporter who was gunned down near his home in Lurgan, Co Armagh, in September 2001.

But in July the murder charges against him and his co-accused were withdrawn.

He brought an action against the Sunday World for alleged misuse of private information and harassment.

The newspaper defended the action, with its Northern Editor Jim McDowell claiming in court that Mr King forfeited his right to privacy when he became involved in the murder of Mr O'Hagan.

Mr King, formerly of Waringstown, denied having anything to do with the killing, and rejected the Sunday World's description of him as an LVF godfather.

He told the hearing that he agreed to play the pipes at the funeral of Wright, the loyalist terror boss murdered inside the Maze Prison in 1997, without knowing it would turn into a paramilitary-style procession.

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