Belfast Telegraph

Ex-civil servant Gerry Loughran' can include 'malice' in case against News Letter

A former top civil servant suing over Press coverage of a Stormont watchdog's report can claim malice as part of his case, a High Court judge has ruled.

Lawyers for the News Letter wanted that element of Sir Gerry Loughran's libel action struck out, arguing that it was too late to make the allegation.

But Mr Justice Gillen held that the issue should go before a jury now expected to hear the lawsuit later this year.

As Press reporting restrictions were lifted in the case, it also emerged that the newspaper has secured a separate determination that one of the articles is covered by qualified privilege.

Sir Gerry, a former Permanent Secretary at the Department of Economic Development and Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, has brought defamation proceedings over the News Letter's coverage of a Public Accounts Committee report in 2012.

The PAC had been investigating the Bioscience and Technology Institute (BTI), a non-profit company set up in 1998 to provide a cutting-edge building for new biotech firms.

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