Paisley Jnr fined £5,000 for contempt of court

Northern Assembly member Ian Paisley Jnr was fined £5,000 (€5,862) today for refusing to reveal the name of a confidential source.

Northern Assembly member Ian Paisley Jnr was fined £5,000 (€5,862) today for refusing to reveal the name of a confidential source.

The North Antrim representative avoided a jail term for defying a court order compelling him to disclose the identity of the informant to a public inquiry into the murder of loyalist paramilitary leader Billy Wright inside the Maze Prison in 1997.

Mr Paisley, son of former First Minister Ian Paisley Snr, was also ordered by Belfast High Court to pay £3,000 (€3,516) costs to the inquiry team.

Taking into account the fine and estimated £35,000 (€41,022) of his own legal costs to date, the politician is said to be out of pocket by at least £43,000 (€50,398).

Judge Mr Justice Gillen said the public interest in knowing the name of the prison officer who told Mr Paisley about a file destruction policy within the prison service in the wake of the killing by INLA inmates outweighed the pledge of confidentiality Mr Paisley had given his source.

Finding him in contempt of court, the judge said: "It is a recipe for legal anarchy for individuals to pick and choose with impunity those laws they will obey and those they will defy."

The Democratic Unionist representative had his father at his side as he gave his reaction to the ruling outside court.

The politician said he would take time to consider whether he would pay the fine.

"The issues which I pursued today I think have been noble, I think they have been just and of course I am disappointed that the result is the courts have not stood over someone who is prepared to keep their word."

Mr Paisley also heavily criticised the Billy Wright inquiry lawyer, John Larkin QC, who yesterday told the court the MLA would relish being imprisoned for defying the order because it would further his political career.

The former Stormont junior minister described those remarks as "flippant, trite and trivial".

Mr Larkin has been earmarked by the DUP/Sinn Féin-led Stormont administration as the North's attorney-general when justice powers are finally devolved from Westminster.

Significantly, when Mr Paisley was asked about Mr Larkin taking on the role, he cryptically said: "A lot of things could happen."

"John will come to regret the day he said those things because I think he knows they were not in keeping or in touch with the realities and the sensitivities of this case."

Former DUP leader Ian Paisley Snr said he was proud of his son.

"This is a sad day for us to stand outside this building dedicated to law and order and democracy and have to acknowledge that true judgment and faithful judgment was not observed as it should have been and honoured by everyone," he said.

Mr Paisley Snr also criticised Mr Larkin's claims about his son in the courtroom.

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