Pastor McConnell lawyers brand Stephen Nolan 'the biggest no-show in the country'
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.
Large crowd of McConnell supporters join in hymn singing outside Belfast Magistrates Court pic.twitter.com/yqV66ggARa— Adrian Rutherford (@arutherfordNI) October 1, 2015
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.