Sinn Fein’s defence borrowing a page from the Scientology play book?

I’d treat with caution any attempt to estimate the Sinn Fein’s costs, not least because they don’t seem to have gone in to the trial with anything much resembling a case.

In disclosure, they offered only copies of the press releases, with one defendant confessing he was a inveterate re-cycler. And as Sam McBride notes in the News Letter today:

Amid a series of disputes about the conduct of the protracted trial — which was listed to last five days but yesterday ended after entering a fourth week — there were frequent sharp exchanges in court between Sinn Fein’s barrister, Martin McCann, and the judge.

Many of those arguments stemmed from Sinn Fein’s decision not to plead justification — that is, not to argue that the words in the press releases were true — which ruled out putting in front of the jury anything which may suggest that Mr Gormley deserved to be sacked as a NI Water director by former Sinn Fein minister Conor Murphy.

It becomes clear that one motive for running such an expensive trial was some kind of retrospective rearguard on the party’s former minister (now, former Assembly member) Conor Murphy. McBride tells a revealing story of how SF conducted the case:

Mr Justice Gillen excluded the jury and was visibly cross. He told Mr McCann: “If there’s one more question from you that suggests this man should have lost his job, I’m going to discharge this jury and award full costs against you.”

He added that it was wrong to have “these hints all the time that somehow Gormley lost his job because of misconduct by the board”.

Within a short space of time and with the jury present, Mr Justice Gillen again stepped in and told Mr McCann: “You will not run this case on the basis that this man should have been dismissed.”

It’s hard to figure why the party would go to such trouble on a thread bare defence. The whole affair has more than a touch of the unreal.

There was more than just a touch of L Ron Hubbard’s fair game strategy to it all:

Suppressive Acts are clearly those covert or overt acts knowingly calculated to reduce or destroy the influence or activities of Scientology or prevent case gains or continued Scientology success and activity on the part of a Scientologist.

As persons or groups that would do such a thing act out of self interest only to the detriment of all others, they cannot be granted the rights and beingness ordinarily accorded rational beings and so place themselves beyond any consideration for their feelings or well being.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty