A Sinn Fein Press release which allegedly libelled a sacked Northern Ireland Water director was aimed at the SDLP rather than him, the High Court has heard.
Jurors were told no part of the statement contained any defamatory meaning that Declan Gormley deserved to be dismissed because he was to blame for an alleged procurement scandal. Counsel for Sinn Fein and two of its representatives argued that the disputed words did not imply the businessman was responsible for “disgraceful conduct”.
Mr Gormley is suing the party, MLA Cathal Boylan and former MLA Willie Clarke over two Press releases issued in their names.
Lawyers for the defendants are claiming 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. Martin McCann, for Sinn Fein, reminded the panel that the case involved politics.
He rejected arguments for the plaintiff that a fair and reasonable reading of the text would suggest Mr Gormley was culpable.
“This is not what these words mean, that Mr Gormley merited dismissal because he was clearly responsible for a cover-up of wrongdoing,” he said.
Counsel for Mr Gormley is set to begin his closing speech today.