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Former Sinn Féin MLA Daithi McKay denies committing misconduct in public office

Former Sinn Féin MLA Daithi McKay has formally denied committing misconduct in public office during a court appearance.

The 41-year-old, of Loughan Road, Dunnamanagh, Co Tyrone, appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court along with co-accused Thomas Gerard O’Hara (39), of Lisnahunshin Road, Cullybackey, Co Antrim, for an arraignment hearing.

Both pleaded not guilty to conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office between September 1 and September 24 2015.

The arraignment of co-accused Jamie Bryson (33), of Rosepark, Donaghadee, Co Down, did not proceed on Tuesday and was adjourned for four weeks.

He faces a single charge of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

During the arraignment hearing on Tuesday, Judge Donna McColgan KC was told that the non-jury trial will last four weeks.

The date for the trial was set as Monday, June 3, 2024. The case will also be reviewed in four weeks.

The charges arise out of events relating to the working of the Committee for Finance and Personnel of the Assembly.

At the time Mr McKay was a Sinn Féin MLA and chair of the committee. The committee conducted a review of the sale of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) property loan portfolio in Northern Ireland.

This sale had become controversial with allegations that there was corruption in the sale and it was a matter of public interest. The sale was also under investigation by the National Crime Agency.

As part of the process, Mr Bryson offered himself as a witness to the CFP and the committee met three times in September 2015 to consider how his evidence would be taken.

On September 23, Mr Bryson gave his evidence to the CFP during which he made various comments about alleged political influence in relation to the sale and alleged involvement of a specific politician in relation to a £7.5m success fee paid to a specific part of the NAMA loan transaction sale.

It later transpired that contacts had been made between Mr Bryson, Mr McKay and Mr O’Hara prior to his evidence being given which had not been known to other committee members.

On August 17, 2016, an assistant to TUV leader Jim Allister MLA received an email from an account in the name of Mr Bryson which contained a selection of private Twitter messages said to be between Mr Bryson, Mr McKay and Mr O’Hara.

Mr Allister passed the messages over to the police. Detectives from the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team launched an investigation into the messages.

Daithi McKay resigned as an MLA on August 18, 2016 and issued a public apology, stating that his conduct with a witness to the CFP’s inquiry into NAMA was “inappropriate, ill-advised and wrong”.

Source: The Irish News