Belfast Councillor to pay James McClean damages over "super-provo" comments

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by Alan Erwin, Laganside Media

Republic of Ireland footballer James McClean is to receive damages from a Belfast councillor who falsely referred to him as a "super Provo", the High Court heard today.

Ulster Unionist Party representative Chris McGimpsey has also issued an unreserved apology for unfounded comments made "in the heat of the moment" on a radio programme.

A further hearing may now be required to determine the level of compensation to be paid to the Stoke City winger.

Mr McClean, 29, issued defamation proceedings following the UUP councillor's appearance on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show in November last year.

The Derry/Londonderry footballer's lawyers told the court the remarks were then repeated and the focus of commentary on social media.

As part of steps to resolve the legal action a barrister for Mr McGimpsey read out a statement in open court.

David Dunlop said: " On November 9, 2018 Christopher McGimpsey made a statement in the course of a debate on the Stephen Nolan Show in which he referred to James McClean as being a 'super Provo'.

"Mr McGimpsey did not intend to communicate that there was any affiliation between Mr McClean and the Provisional Irish Republican Army."

The barrister went on: "Mr McGimpsey made this statement in the heat of the moment and did so without taking adequate care to consider the implications of those words. 

"He accepts that the statement was false and completely inaccurate. 

"Mr McGimpsey had no basis whatsoever for suggesting any connection between Mr McClean and the Provisional Irish Republican Army."

Counsel confirmed: "In the circumstances, Mr McGimpsey has agreed to pay damages and legal costs to Mr McClean and unreservedly apologises for any distress and embarrassment his statement on the Nolan Show caused to Mr McClean."

He told Mr Justice Maguire the level of damages his client should pay Mr McClean remains to be established.

The judge agreed to list the case for a further review in May.

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