Lawyers defending ex-Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams decline to say why they are threatening to sue lawyer acting for IRA victims in a personal rather than professional capacity

Lawyers defending Gerry Adams have declined to say why they are threatening to sue a lawyer acting for IRA victims in a personal rather than in a professional capacity.
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In January the High Court in London ruled that Mr Adams can be sued by victims of IRA bomb attacks in England.

They are seeking symbolic damages of £1, claiming that Mr Adams was one of PIRA’s leaders at the time.

Mr Adams has always denied being a member of the IRA.

Gerry Adams has always denied being a member of the IRA and is currently fighting a civil action by IRA victims on the matter. Pic: PA WireGerry Adams has always denied being a member of the IRA and is currently fighting a civil action by IRA victims on the matter. Pic: PA Wire
Gerry Adams has always denied being a member of the IRA and is currently fighting a civil action by IRA victims on the matter. Pic: PA Wire
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In the January hearing Mr Adams tried - but failed - to have the victims made liable for his legal costs - then estimated at over £120,000.

The victims, who are financed by crowdfunding, viewed this as an attempt to get them to drop the case.

After the court awarded them protection from Mr Adam's legal costs, their lawyer - Matt Jury, of McCue Jury & Partners - issued a press statement giving victims' reactions.

He said: “This is an unequivocal victory for all victims and survivors of IRA terrorism. Adams and his legal team’s apparent attempt to intimidate them into withdrawing their claims has, rightly failed and their case will continue."

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However the law firm representing Mr Adams has now accused Mr Jury of defamation and is pressing him to apologise and retract his words or be sued.

David Enright, partner at London-based Howe & Co Solicitors, told the News Letter: "The statement that the legal team [for Mr Adams] attempted to 'intimidate' the claimants was false.

"As part of Mr Adam’s legal team, I and my firm - and the barristers acting on this case - have never attempted to 'intimidate' the claimants in that litigation. We made a perfectly legitimate legal application to the court which was determined by the court and of which Mr Adams won three of the four matters considered by the court."

Mr Enright insisted the legal warning to Mr Jury is to protect the reputations of Howe & Co lawyers and in no way linked to Mr Adams or his legal defence.

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Their warning letter was addressed to Mr Jury personally and not to his legal firm.

The implication is that any legal costs and damages in such a case could come out of a lawyer's own personal pocket. Normally professional indemnity insurance would only protect a lawyer where legal action is taken against them professionally

The News Letter asked Howe & Co why they are threatening action against Mr Jury personally.

The firm did not directly answer the question but said they were acting within their rights.

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Mr Enright replied: "The law is clear that the author of a defamatory statement is responsible for the words used and is therefore the appropriate proposed defendant."

A group that campaigns against Strategic Litigations Against Public Participation actions (SLAPPs) expressed concern about the legal threat.

The UK Anti-SLAPP Coalition, said: "We are deeply concerned that this case is a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), aimed at discouraging him [Mr Jury] from speaking out about the case."

But Mr Enright rejected the accusation.

“We have complied with the pre-action protocol on defamation claims, under the Civil Procedure Rules,” he said. “We are not ‘silencing’ Mr Jury. He has already published his views, which were false.”