NI Newspaper review: Rugby rape trial 'secret evidence'

By Niall Glynn

Image source, Daily Mirror
Image source, News Letter

One story dominates Northern Ireland's papers on Thursday.

The Belfast Telegraph, Daily Mirror, Irish News and News Letter all lead with the lifting of reporting restrictions in the rugby rape trial.

"Rugby trial: What the jury wasn't told" is the headline in the Telegraph.

It reveals that one of the defendants, Rory Harrison, sent a "threesome" pornographic video clip to Stuart Olding on the day after the alleged attack.

It also says that jurors were not told about additional bloodstains on Paddy Jackson's bed.

Image source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
Rory Harrison sent a pornographic video clip to Stuart Olding

Some of the blood found on the bed covers was connected to the complainant but other blood not connected to the trial was also found, it says.

"Video nasty" is the headline in the Daily Mirror, again referring to the clip sent by Mr Harrison to Mr Olding.

The Mirror says that other evidence that can be reported includes the fact contact was made from the complainant's phone to the Uber taxi app before she left Mr Jackson's house.

It led defence lawyers to query her evidence that she had fled Mr Jackson's house before running upstairs to retrieve her mobile from his bedroom.

When asked about Uber she said she could not remember calling it. No Uber taxi was confirmed and none turned up.

It says the issue was raised about halfway through the nine-week trial in which all four defendants - Mr Jackson, Mr Olding, Mr Harrison and Blane McIlroy - were acquitted.

Image source, PAcemaker
Image caption,
Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and the two other accused were cleared of all charges

It says Judge Patricia Smyth ruled that the clip, showing two men and a woman not connected to the case having consensual sex, should not be shown to the jury.

In its lead story, the News Letter says that a tweet from Alliance leader Naomi Long put the trial on a "knife edge".

The tweet criticised Mr Olding's barrister Frank O'Donoghue QC for remarks he made in court concerning the alleged victim.

Another story that has been prominent in the news this week has been the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, DUP leader Arlene foster looks back at the agreement, before turning her eye to the current political stalemate.

She says while she desperately wanted a peaceful future she was concerned "at the price many seemed only too willing to pay".

Image caption,
Arlene Foster criticised republican efforts to "justify terrorism"

She is critical of republicans' "efforts to justify the terrorism" of the past, but adds: "If we begin to genuinely respect each other and our different outlooks, then we can achieve a settled community in a way we haven't experienced before."

'Willingness to risk a riot'

Writing in the Irish News, Newton Emerson turns his attention to Monday's loyalist press conference and a warning from Lord Trimble that Irish government brinkmanship over Brexit could provoke loyalists.

"What can be learned from the relative peace of the past two years is that loyalists are more interested in money, community and their own liberty than in the high politics of Brexit and devolution," Mr Emerson says.

He also praises Chief Constable George Hamilton who he says "has shown more willingness to risk a riot, to put it bluntly, in order to challenge loyalist criminality".

On the subject of loyalist paramiltarism, a shooting in north Belfast is linked to an internal UDA feud, according to the News Letter.

A gunman opened fire in the Tyndale area on Tuesday night before running off. No-one was injured.

Finally, if you're craving an Ulster Fry, there's bad news in the papers.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Feeling hungry? The price of an Ulster Fry is rising

Both the News Letter and Belfast Telegraph report that the cost of Northern Ireland's most famous dish is going up.

The Telegraph says it has risen by nearly 3% in the last year, making it 22% more expensive than a decade ago.

Tying in with events of the past week, the News Letter says the price has risen by 51% since the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

It's all to do with the rising price of the ingredients making up the fry, the papers tell us.

All I know is that looking at all these pictures of fry-ups is making my stomach growl.