Northern Ireland

Legal action over Peter Hain memoirs 'misconceived'

Peter Hain on the Andrew Marr show
Image caption Peter Hain faces proceedings over comments in his memoir

Northern Ireland's attorney general has been urged to withdraw "misconceived" legal action against Peter Hain.

John Larkin is taking contempt of court proceedings against Mr Hain, a former Northern Ireland Secretary, over criticisms he made of a judge in his memoirs.

More than 120 MPs have signed a motion in the House of Commons criticising Mr Larkin. North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said the prosecution would "damage" Mr Larkin's reputation.

"I think it does no good for Northern Ireland," Mr Dodds told the BBC's Sunday Politics.

"I say to John Larkin, the Attorney General, that he should step back, reconsider and withdraw this misconceived motion that he's bringing to the court."

Mr Larkin has been granted leave to prosecute Mr Hain and the publishers of his memories, over claims that a passage in the book "undermines the administration of justice".

The passage referred to Lord Justice Girvan's handling of a case which examined Mr Hain's appointment of a Northern Ireland Victims Commissioner.

Senior MPs have already hit out at the legal move, describing it as an attack on politicians' freedom of expression.

Last month, former home secretary David Blunkett told the Commons people were entitled to "fair comment".

Earlier this week, Northern Ireland's Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said it was wrong that public money was being used to take the case.

The case is due to be mentioned at the High Court in Belfast on Tuesday.

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