Tom Elliott’s regret over Attorney general remarks

DUP will not field a candidate in Fermanagh South Tyrone, as Tom Elliott chosen to defend his Westminster seat
DUP will not field a candidate in Fermanagh South Tyrone, as Tom Elliott chosen to defend his Westminster seat

A former Ulster Unionist leader “regrets any embarrassment” caused to Attorney General John Larkin by radio comments about his impartiality in dealing with Northern Ireland’s troubled past, the High Court heard today.

Counsel for Tom Elliott read out a statement on his behalf as part of a settlement reached in defamation proceedings.

Mr Larkin QC sued the ex-UUP MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone after he appeared as a guest on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show last year.

The action centred on apparent suggestions of a difference in approach to killings by terrorist groupings and those carried out by the security forces.

In court today it was confirmed that a confidential resolution has been reached.

But under the terms of the settlement a statement was read out by a senior barrister representing Mr Elliott.

He said: “On April 20, 2016, during the course of a live debate on the Stephen Nolan BBC Radio Ulster show, Mr Elliott made a number of statements which may have been taken to imply that the Attorney General, John Larkin, had failed to discharge his professional duties impartially and with fairness.

“Mr Elliott wishes to confirm that he did not intend to impugn the integrity of Mr Larkin, or for any such inferences to be taken from his statements.”

The barrister added: “Mr Elliott regrets any embarrassment which this may have caused Mr Larkin.”

Outside court libel lawyer Paul Tweed, who represented the Attorney General, welcomed the outcome.

The solicitor, who has set up a specialist new law firm, Tweed, said: “My client is pleased that this matter has finally been resolved.”