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Pastor McConnell lawyers brand Stephen Nolan 'the biggest no-show in the country'

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 01/10/2015

Pastor James McConnell arrives at court. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Pastor James McConnell arrives at court. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Pastor James McConnell arrives at court with his supporters. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
A supporter of Pastor James McConnell arrives at court. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Lawyers have started a court bid to summon BBC presenter Stephen Nolan as a witness in the trial of a pastor facing charges over an anti-Islamic sermon, branding the presenter's initial refusal to attend as "the biggest no-show in the country".

Pastor James McConnell's defence team want to call Nolan to give evidence.

But today it emerged Nolan has responded - through the BBC's legal team - to say he will only attend court if compelled to do so.

It led solicitor Joe Rice to joke that Nolan's unwillingness to appear was "the biggest no-show in the country".

A judge said he would consider the request for Nolan to be summoned and respond at a later date.

Pastor McConnell is charged with improper use of a public electronic communications network, and causing a grossly offensive message to be sent by means of a public electronic communications network.

The charges related to remarks made in an internet-broadcast sermon he delivered at his Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in north Belfast on May 18 last year.

He said "a new evil had arisen" and "there are cells of Muslims right throughout Britain".

"Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell," he said.

Pastor McConnell was later questioned by police about his remarks.

He issued a public apology for any offence caused.

However, earlier this year it emerged he would be prosecuted over the comments.

Mr Nolan carried out a number of television and radio interviews with Pastor McConnell in the wake of the sermon last May.

The case has been listed for December 14 and is expected to last three days.

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