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Prominent republican Colin Duffy mounts legal bid to force newspaper to reveal source of reports


Colin Duffy

Colin Duffy

Colin Duffy

Prominent republican Colin Duffy is mounting a new legal bid to have a newspaper forced to reveal details of its source for reports on covert surveillance allegedly linked to him.

Lawyers for the 50-year-old Lurgan man are seeking an order compelling the Sunday World to disclose the status of whoever supplied information for articles claiming to quote from the secret audio.

Judges in the Court of Appeal are set to hear the challenge next month after requesting details on all those who had access to a confidential document at the centre of the case.

Duffy, of Forest Glade in the Co Armagh town, and two other men, Henry Joseph Fitzsimons, 49, of no fixed abode, and 56-year-old Alex McCrory from Sliabh Dubh View in Belfast, are currently facing criminal proceedings.

They have denied charges connected to a gun attack on a police convoy on north Belfast's Crumlin Road in December 2013.

Prosecution evidence centres on covert recordings of conversations allegedly held in Lurgan the following day.

In 2015 the Sunday World published two articles purporting to quote from the tapes.

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Duffy, McCrory and Fitzsimons sued the newspaper and the Chief Constable, claiming the source of the disclosure is a police officer.

As part of the proceedings they sought an injunction prohibiting the unidentified journalistic source from revealing any further contents of the covert recordings.

They also wanted an order compelling the newspaper to reveal the name or status of the person who supplied the material.

Although the Sunday World refused to disclose its source, undertakings were given not to republish.

Last year a High Court judge refused to grant the injunction, and ruled that the disclosure being sought was not important enough to override the public interest in protecting journalistic sources.

Counsel representing Duffy and Fitzsimons are now appealing that decision.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, for Duffy, argued that revealing just the status of the source "did not then and never will lead to a reasonable chance" of actually identifying them.

But the Sunday World's legal team contended that providing those details may result in the source being unmasked through a jigsaw identification process.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, sitting with Lord Justices Deeny and Treacy, confirmed the case will now go to a full hearing to decide on the issue.

Amid debate over potentially narrowing the pool of candidates for the source, both sides were also asked to submit any evidence about anyone who had access to the confidential document.

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