Northern Ireland news

Jamie Bryson preparing legal challenge to facing trial without jury in Nama probe case

Jamie Bryson. Picture by Pacemaker.

A LOYALIST activist accused of conspiring to subvert a Stormont inquiry into a billion pound property deal is preparing a legal challenge to facing trial without jury.

Lawyers for Jamie Bryson have taken preliminary steps in a potential High Court case against the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Northern Ireland.

The 31-year-old 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 and party member Thomas O'Hara are accused of the same offence.

The defendants are already seeking to judicially review the decision to have them returned for Crown Court trial - where Mr Bryson will be representing himself.

But now he has initiated a second possible challenge to the legality of the decision to issue a certificate for a non-jury trial.

Pre-Action Protocol correspondence has been sent to the Public Prosecution Service in Belfast, alleging that the DPP has misdirected himself and asking for the certificate to be rescinded.

Mr Bryson, who has enlisted former Attorney General John Larkin QC for the civil cases.

He confirmed his intention to lodge High Court papers if the request to cancel the certificate is declined.

The prosecution 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 evidence to the Finance Committee - then chaired by Mr McKay - as part of its examination of the Project Eagle deal.

A decision was later 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.

Mr McKay has since stood down as an MLA for North Antrim and quit the party.

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