Sunday Business Post

Paisley issues writ against BBC

15/08/04 00:00
By Pat Leahy

The DUP leader Ian Paisley has issued libel proceedings against the BBC and the former Daily Telegraph editor and author, Max Hastings.

A spokesman for the BBC last week confirmed that a writ had been received from Paisley, issued against both Hastings and the BBC.

The spokesman would not comment any further.

Hastings' office referred all queries to the BBC. Paisley's office would not comment, saying that the DUP leader had been in hospital for the week.

Hastings made a number of remarks about Paisley while reviewing the Sunday papers for BBC Radio Four last November, which are the subject of the forthcoming libel proceedings.

For legal reasons, the detail of Hastings' remarks cannot be repeated, but it is understood that they are unflattering summaries of the nature of Paisley's influence on affairs in the North.

In a memoir of his years of war reporting published in 2000, Hastings who reported from Belfast during 1969, paints a similar picture of what he believed was Paisley's malign influence.

Hastings was the editor of the Daily Telegraph from 1986 until 1996 when he moved to the editor's chair at the Evening Standard. He is also the author of several books, including several on military history.

Hastings lived in Co Kilkenny for two years and has professed a deep affection for Ireland and, in particular, Ulster, although he has never - unlike his successor at the Telegraph, Charles Moore - been particularly sympathetic to unionism.

It is understood that the case, if and when it goes ahead, will take place in Belfast, in which case Paisley is likely to seek a judge-only case, as some members of a jury might for political reasons be less sympathetic than others.

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