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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Leading loyalist drops action
A leading east Belfast loyalist has dropped a High Court action against an insurance company which refused to pay out after a fire at his pub.

Jim Gray ran the Bunch of Grapes bar on the Beersbridge Road with another man.

He and Gary Matthews were suing Axa insurance for more than 60,000.

The company had refused to pay because it said it did not believe the pub had been damaged in the way it was claimed.

The fire broke out on 7 January 2001.

Axa also said Mr Gray had failed to disclose that he was a leading member of the outlawed Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

The claim was broken down into 45,931 for repairs and 15,000 for loss of earnings and profits.

However, the action was withdrawn when it came before Mr Justice Coghlin who entered judgement in favour of the insurance company.

Police suspect a former UDA man was murdered in the bar.

'Unlawful organisation'

Shortly before the fire, the body of 37-year-old George Legge, a former senior UDA man in east Belfast, was found at Carryduff, outside Belfast.

Murder squad detectives investigated a possible link with the fire at the Bunch of Grapes.

Mr Legge had been stabbed and slashed and police believed he was attacked elsewhere before his body was dumped on the Clontonacally Road between Four Winds and Carryduff.
George Legge
George Legge's body was found at Carryduff, outside Belfast.

He had fallen from favour and loyalist sources linked the fall-out to his alleged involvement in the drugs trade, suggesting that money had gone missing.

Axa said Mr Gray "failed to disclose that he was connected with an unlawful organisation, the UDA, being at all material times a member of the UDA and/or the Officer Commanding the UDA in East Belfast".

Axa's court documents claimed the fire was "an unlawful, wanton or malicious act committed maliciously by a person or persons acting on behalf of or in connection with an unlawful association".

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