Northern Ireland news

Jamie Bryson wore a Union flag tie to court and was accompanied by loyalist supporters

Jamie Bryson arrives at Belfast Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

What was billed as an explosive political trial got off to a jumpy start yesterday with only one of the three defendants appearing in court.

Jamie Bryson is being prosecuted alongside former Sinn Féin MLA Daithi McKay (37) and party member Thomas O'Hara, (35) for allegedly conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.

The charges relate to Bryson's 2015 appearance before a Stormont committee, chaired by McKay, which was investigating the sale of the Northern Ireland holdings of the National Asset Management Agency, the Republic's so called 'bad bank'.

Bryson, wearing a suit and Union flag tie, is representing himself.

He came armed with a pile of files, seemingly ready for any and all eventualities. However, there was initial confusion as the case did not appear on the list of that day's business in Court 10 of Laganside Court.

The court press office telling one journalist they had no record of the case.

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With McKay and O'Hara choosing to stay away, it was in doubt whether there would be a hearing at all.

Confusion sorted, the case was called.

Bryson started by asking senior judge Fiona Bagnall could he avail of a desk for his bundle of papers.

However, she briskly told him to remain where he was.

After saying he wanted several witnesses called for a committal hearing, Bryson dramatically added, "And one defence witness, Mr Jim Wells."

A solicitor representing O'Hara, said he would have to speak to his client before confirming whether he objected to witnesses being called during committal proceedings.

No one spoke on behalf of Daithí McKay.

Bryson, who was accompanied to court by several loyalist supporters, confirmed he would have his final list of potential witnesses prepared before the next hearing.

Case adjourned until February 11, this looks set to be more of a slow burner than the expected inferno.

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Northern Ireland news