VIDEO: Pastor ‘disappointed PPS used Stephen Nolan’

Pastor James McConnell at Belfast's Magistrates Court
Pastor James McConnell at Belfast's Magistrates Court

A pastor on trial for comments about Islam says he is disappointed prosecutors did not “attack” him themselves, but rather relied on BBC broadcaster Stephen Nolan to do so.

Judgment was today reserved in the final day of the trial of Pastor James McConnell, aged 78.

The pastor, from Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, was prosecuted under the 2003 Communications Act over a sermon in which he branded Islam “heathen”, “satanic” and a “doctrine spawned in hell”.

Speaking outside court after the final day of the trial, Pastor McConnell said he was disappointed that prosecutors did not “attack” him themselves and did not offer anything “original” against him.

Rather, in his view they relied heavily on broadcast interviews by BBC broadcaster Stephen Nolan, which were played extensively in court. [See his comments in full in attached video clip].

The Pastor said he was also disappointed that his lawyers were not allowed to call a Muslim academic from London - Imam Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hussaini - in his defence.

Mr McConnell also praised Catholic cleric Fr Patrick McCafferty for his support during the trial.

Both Al-Hussaini and Fr McCafferty say that although they disagreed with the Pastor’s critique of their religious views, they defended his right to express his views.

The verdict on the trial will be delivered in January.