As you may know, the use of the libel laws in NI politics has been a subject in which I have been taking an interest. I have been attempting to clarify the position in relation to some of the stories which may have slipped through the cracks. Many thanks to the SF press office and Alex Maskey MLA who have taken the time to update me on the McDonnell libel action:
Writs has been served on A mc Donnell and the SDLP press officer for publishing defamatory comments directed at myself and I did notify the media of this. I have seen reported comments from an SDLP source suggesting this is merely a “temporary gagging” order. I can assure you this is not the case. Alex Maskey
No word from the SDLP as yet. Full text below the fold:
Jimmy a chara,
I received your email regarding the query on Alex Maskey. Please find below the press release which was issued by our Press Office on the 4th April in connection with the issue. Also below please find a response from Alex to your email.
Comment from Alex: Writs has been served on A mc Donnell and the SDLP press officer for publishing defamatory comments directed at myself and I did notify the media of this. I have seen reported comments from an SDLP source suggesting this is merely a “temporary gagging” order. I can assure you this is not the case. Alex Maskey
Jimmy I hope that this is an adequate response to your email. If you require any further information please contact me or our Press Office @ 028 90 223000/00353 1 8726932
Go raibh maith agat.
Director of Sinn Féin National Administration
Sinn Féin Ard Oifig
Tel 00353 1 8726932/8726100
Sinn Fein Press Office
53 Falls Road
E mail email@example.com
For Immediate Release: 04/04/05
SDLP False Allegations Around McCartney Murder Challenged
Sinn Féin Assembly member for South Belfast Alex Maskey has accused the SDLP of manipulating the murder of Robert McCartney in a despicable pre-election campaign. Mr Maskey has also revealed that he has served writs on the SDLP Deputy Leader Alistair McDonnell and the SDLP after they issued statements and a bulletin accusing him of being personally involved in a cover-up.
Mr Maskey said:
” The Sinn Féin position surrounding the murder of Robert McCartney is very clear. Sinn Féin support and continue to support the McCartney family in their campaign for truth and justice. However others, and in particular the SDLP, have sought to manipulate the murder of Robert McCartney in what can only be described as a despicable pre-election campaign.
” In a series of statements and local bulletins the SDLP have accused me of being personally involved in a cover-up. This is untrue and the SDLP know this to be untrue. I am no longer prepared to stand back and allow what is a genuine campaign for truth and justice to be hijacked or distracted by a desire on the part of the SDLP to score political points through lies and innuendo.
” The false allegations which the SDLP have repeatedly made against myself are unacceptable. I have therefore issued writs to both the SDLP party and Alaistar McDonnell personally and a number of weeks on my lawyers are still awaiting a response. I have also instructed my lawyers to continue to monitor closely other media outlets repeating these scurrilous allegations and if so taking the appropriate legal action.” ENDS