Ulster: true voice or election gag?

Traditional Ulster Voice leader Jim Allister has failed in his attempt to have leaflets printed by election rival Ian Paisley Junior banned.

Mr Allister, a QC hoping to win his young party’s first Westminster seat, maintains that the leaflets contain libellous material.

Mt Justice Gullen noted:

“It is open to argument that the words complained of do not amount to an untrue statement of fact but are part and parcel of the political opinions that seem to have been the hallmark of the campaign to date between these two candidates.

“In coming to this conclusion I am conscious of the need to ensure the free expression of opinion by those who put themselves into the democratic process for election by the population at large.

“I pause to observe again that I am far from ruling that these words may not be capable of defamatory meaning or that a jury may not come to a conclusion favourable to the plaintiff.

“I am not satisfied, however, that it is appropriate that an interlocutory injunction should be granted at this time and accordingly I refuse the plaintiff’s application.”

Mr Allister says he will press ahead with a defamation suit. So it seems, at least in North Antrim, libel is very definitely an election issue.