Gerry Kelly’s solicitors have served me with a libel writ.
Published: 21 June 2022
For legal reasons, I can’t yet say publicly what he’s upset about except that I think it’s ridiculous and I’m standing by what I wrote because I believe it is true.
I did the same when, for instance, his colleagues John Finucane and Michelle O’Neill threatened to sue me. I care about free speech, which I consider a basic human right and a vital pillar of a democratic society which is under threat in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Sinn Féin seems to use many lawyers and it has few inhibitions about suing.
Right now Gerry Adams is suing the BBC, and Mary Lou McDonald has filed a legal action against RTÉ in terms that have alarmed the Index on Censorship, a London-based media freedom group, which has now filed a media freedom alert with the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists.
They believe her action is “characteristic of a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or ‘Slapp’”.
Several good people I know have had to pay costs and damages for claims that would have been laughed out of court in England, where the defamation law was reformed. Politicians blocked a similar reform in Northern Ireland.
I‘m particularly concerned about many republican threatening letters or writs that are out there causing great distress to individuals who fear being ruined financially but are scared to speak up. I believe it’s time to be open about this.
If anyone has been threatened with a libel action by a member of Sinn Fein and would like some advice, they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at the News Letter, address on opposite page in the print edition, and I’ll pass the information on to my solicitors.