Gerry Adams is suing the BBC for libel on the back of an allegation made in last week’s Spotlight program on IRA spies.
Speaking to the Belfast weekly newspaper, the Andersonstown News, Mr. Adams said: “I have been consulting with my lawyers and we will now be taking action against the BBC in relation to the totally false allegation contained within the BBC Spotlight broadcast.”
The Andersonstown News is part of the Belfast Media Group stable of newspapers, as is the Irish Echo.
When asked what formed the basis of his suit, the Louth TD would not be drawn further, saying: “This matter is now in the hands of my lawyers and I will not be making any further comment.”
But it’s believed that Adams has been spurred into action by the claim in the September 20 program that he sanctioned the 2006 killing of West Belfast informer Denis Donaldson.
The claim was made on the Spotlight program by an anonymous man said to be former member of the IRA and Sinn Féin and now working for the British.
Three years after the former Sinn Féin official’s murder, the Real IRA claimed responsibility.
Last Friday, the Donaldson family met with Garda Deputy Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne and two other senior police officers who provided an update on their investigation into the murder.
After the meeting, Ciarán Shiels, the family’s solicitor, said: “The one theme that has come out of today’s meeting is that the theory that was being advanced by BBC Spotlight earlier this week, that this was in some way carried out by the Provisional IRA or authorized by Gerry Adams. I think it’s absolute nonsense.”
Shiels said the theory that the Provisional IRA carried out the killing, and that it was sanctioned by Adams, “just does not stand up.”
“It does not marry in any way with the lines of inquiry that have been progressed by the guards or by the [police] ombudsman.”
Last week’s Sunday Times reported that gardaí have no evidence to support the claims that were made by a source during the Spotlight program, claims that caused a political storm in the following days.
“We have no evidence to put to Gerry Adams,” said the garda source.
“The investigation team would have no reason to invite him in for questioning, or even attempt to arrest him.
“The investigation is following a definite line of inquiry and we have built up a detailed picture of those involved in Donaldson’s murder. Adams does not feature.”
The Spotlight program has since come in for sharp criticism from the Guardian’s media analyst Roy Greenslade, and leading Irish investigative journalist and broadcaster, Vincent Browne.
This article appears courtesy of the Irish Echo. To read more of their stories, visit their website here.