Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

NI Water libel case drawing to conclusion

The final evidence has been given in a sacked Northern Ireland Water director's High Court libel action against Sinn Fein.

Jurors will hear closing speeches before being asked to decide if two party Press releases defamed businessman Declan Gormley.

Mr Gormley was one of four non-executive board members dismissed by Conor Murphy, the former Sinn Fein Minister for Regional Development, in 2010.

The move followed an independent review team investigation into how contracts were awarded.

Mr Gormley emphatically denies any wrongdoing.

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

Mr Gormley is suing Sinn Fein MLA Cathal Boylan and former Assemblyman 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 attacks on Mr Murphy mounted by the SDLP with Mr Gormley's collusion.

Closing submissions by both sides are expected to begin today.

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