Three reported to prosecutors over allegations of witness coaching at Stormont inquiry into Nama deal

Daithi McKay

A former Sinn Féin Assembly member and a high-profile loyalist blogger have been reported to prosecutors in connection with allegations of witness coaching at a Stormont inquiry.

Daithi McKay, 34, and Jamie Bryson, 27, were two of three men reported to the Public Prosecution Service by detectives investigating events around Mr Bryson's appearance at the Assembly's Finance Committee last year.

The loyalist was giving evidence to the committee's inquiry into the controversial sale of the National Asset Management Agency's Northern Ireland assets to a US investment fund.

A probe was launched after the publication of leaked Twitter messages between Mr Bryson, Mr McKay and the Twitter account of Sinn Féin north Antrim activist Thomas O'Hara.

Detectives have sent files on all three men to prosecutors after questioning them individually by appointment. The PPS will decide whether a case will be pursued.

Mr McKay quit as an MLA within hours of the Twitter messages being published by a Belfast newspaper last August.

Read: Ex-SF MLA Daithi McKay quits over claims about Nama deal evidence

The Stormont Finance committee inquiry, chaired then by Mr McKay, was set up in 2015 due to political controversy over the multimillion-pound sale of Nama's property portfolio north of the border.

Nama, the so-called bad bank created by the Irish government to deal with the toxic loans of bailed-out lenders during the economic crash, sold its 800 Northern Ireland-linked properties to investment fund Cerberus for £1.2bn.

When giving evidence, Mr Bryson used Assembly privilege to name former DUP leader Peter Robinson as a beneficiary of the sale.

The then first minister of Northern Ireland strongly rejected any suggestion he had benefited from the deal. All other parties involved in the transaction have also denied wrongdoing.

PSNI Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes said: "Detectives from the PSNI Serious Crime Branch investigating criminal allegations surrounding the giving of evidence by an individual at a Committee for Finance meeting held in Stormont on the September 23rd 2015 about Nama have conducted planned interviews with three men aged 27, 32 and 34.

"All three have been reported to the PPS for consideration for prosecution."

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