The First and Deputy First Minister’s new press officer is to be called as a key witness in a defamation action by DUP MLA Jim Wells in a row over comments on homosexuality.
David Gordon, who had been the editor of the Stephen Nolan Show, was understood to have been the editor on the morning it carried a report about a video clip of Mr Wells speaking at a south Down hustings event in April 2015.
The unfolding situation puts Mr Wells in the unusual situation of taking a legal action against the Nolan Show that is likely to see his party leader’s new ministerial press officer cross-examined on his actions as a BBC producer.
The clip showed Mr Wells making comments about homosexuality, marriage and child abuse.
The then Health Minister resigned in the wake of the story – which made international headlines. However he later said that the clip which went viral on social media had only been a partial sentence and insisted that he should not have resigned.
In October 2015 the Public Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute him for hate speech after it was supplied with a fuller transcript of his comments. Then in August Dorothy Gardner from Dungannon was convicted of making false allegations to police about what the MLA had said.
On Friday she apologised to Mr Wells in court.
Mr Wells told the News Letter: “During his remarks to the court [in the Gardner case] Judge Neil Rafferty said that he had read the transcript of my Downpatrick speech and it was very clear that I had not made the alleged comments that led to my resignation.”
The video clips on social media created “a totally false impression of the speech I made at an election hustings meeting Downpatrick,” he added.
“Rather than give in to this vilification I have fought a long campaign to ensure that I am vindicated both within my party and the wider community.
“I can confirm that four writs for defamation have been issued.”
The News Letter understands that Mr Gordon is to be called as a witness in one case against the Nolan Show. It is understood a second writ relates to the BBC while the others relate to a south Down student and a Belfast blogger.
Mr Gordon, who takes up his new post today, declined to comment.