Northern Ireland

Jamie Bryson to cross examine detective, court told

Blogger Jamie Bryson
Blogger Jamie Bryson Blogger Jamie Bryson

A LOYALIST blogger accused of conspiring to subvert a Stormont inquiry into a billion pound property deal is set to cross-examine the detective who headed the investigation, it has emerged.

Belfast Magistrates Court was told Kevin Geddes is among the witnesses Jamie Bryson wants to attend at his legal bid to have the charge thrown out.

Mr Bryson is attempting to halt criminal proceedings at an early stage by claiming the prosecution case is too weak to advance to trial.

A date for his Preliminary Inquiry was expected to be fixed on Wednesday, but a judge instead adjourned for a further update next month.

Mr Bryson (30) denies a charge of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office on dates between September 1-24, 2015.

Former Sinn Féin MLA Daithi McKay (38) and party member Thomas O'Hara (36) are accused of the same offence.

The case relates to a Stormont probe into the £1.2bn sale of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama)'s Northern Ireland property portfolio to US investment giant Cerberus.

In September 2015 Mr Bryson gave explosive evidence to the finance committee examining the deal.

Using parliamentary privilege, he made an unsubstantiated allegation that Peter Robinson, the then DUP First Minister, was set to profit. Mr Robinson strenuously denied any wrongdoing, insisting that he neither expected nor received any money from the sale.

He branded Mr Bryson's evidence a "pantomime".

At the time Mr McKay was chair of the finance committee and seen as a rising star within Sinn Féin's ranks.

But a year later he stood down as an MLA for North Antrim and quit the party. His resignation followed allegations that he and Mr O'Hara were involved in coaching Mr Bryson ahead of his appearance at the committee.

Police launched an investigation into the affair following a complaint by senior DUP figure Lord Morrow.

A decision was then taken to prosecute Mr Bryson, of Rosepark in Donaghadee, Co Down; Mr McKay, of Loughan Road in Dunnamanagh, Co Tyrone; and Mr O'Hara, from Lisnahunshin Road in Cullybackey, Co Antrim.

It centres on an alleged conspiracy to subvert the finance committee's proceedings by giving evidence that should not have been permitted in open session.

In court yesterday, it emerged that Kevin Geddes, who was the detective superintendent in charge of the police investigation at the time, is among up to nine prosecution witnesses Mr Bryson wants to cross-examine at a Preliminary Inquiry expected to last for three days.

He is also set to call DUP MLA Jim Wells and the independent Irish MEP Mick Wallace to testify in his defence at the hearing.

District Judge Mark McGarrity listed the case for a further update in two weeks time.