Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist in privacy battle is a killer, editor tells court

A man who played the pipes at loyalist terror boss Billy Wright's funeral abandoned his right to privacy when he became involved in the murder of journalist Martin O'Hagan, the High Court was told yesterday.

Sunday World Northern Editor Jim McDowell told a judge his newspaper wanted to expose Drew King as being “a major figure in a sectarian killing machine”.

Mr King, who was formerly charged with the murder of Mr O'Hagan, is claiming damages for alleged misuse of private information and harassment in a case brought against the newspaper.

The 42-year-old was one of three men to be formally accused of killing Mr 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But in July the murder charges were withdrawn.

Details of what he is attempting to stop the newspaper from publishing cannot be fully disclosed for legal reasons, pending the outcome of the case.

Lawyers for the Sunday World have accused him of hypocrisy due to his alleged associations with Wright, the Loyalist Volunteer Force chief murdered inside the Maze Prison in 1997.

Mr King, formerly of Waringstown, told the hearing he agreed to a request to play the pipes at his funeral without knowing it would turn out to be a paramilitary-style procession.

He also categorically denied having anything to do with Mr O'Hagan's killing.

But during Mr McDowell's evidence Karen Quinlivan, for Mr King, put it to him: “You believe he murdered Mr O'Hagan and you think he has forfeited his right to a private life.”

The editor replied: “That's right.”

Mr McDowell told the court he believed Mr King was the driver of the car used by the killers.

He defended his newspaper's decision to publish information about Mr King's partner as being part of a character profile.

“He had a reputation as a womaniser. This was another woman he was with,” Mr McDowell said.

Although he insisted this was a matter of public interest, Ms Quinlivan asked him: “How does the fact he went out with one woman his entire life, or 10 women, have any issue with the allegation he murdered your colleague?”

Mr McDowell responded: “It's to do with morals.”

Judgment in the case was expected to be reserved following a three-day hearing.

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