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Wednesday, October 27, 1999 Published at 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Journalist wins court battle over notes

Front page news: Journalist Ed Moloney's story

A Northern Ireland journalist has won a legal battle to overturn an order directing him to hand over interview notes with a man accused of murder.

The High Court in Belfast ruled that Ed Moloney does not have to surrender notes of interviews he carried out ten years ago with William Stobie, a self-confessed police informer and alleged Ulster Defence Association quartermaster.

Mr Stobie is accused of murdering Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989, but is denying the charge.

The journalist was fighting a County Court order directing him to surrender his notes to the Steven's Inquiry Team, which is investigating the loyalist paramilitary murder and allegations of Royal Ulster Constabulary collusion in the killing.

[ image: Ed Moloney: Carried out interviews with accused]
Ed Moloney: Carried out interviews with accused
But Lord Chief Justice Sir Robert Carswell ruled that police had not proved there was more than a possibility there could be material in the notes which would be of value to the murder inquiry.

He said a judge at an earlier hearing had misapprehended the evidence or misguided himself in making his decision.

In June, Mr Moloney published a story in the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune based on interviews with Mr Stobie.

The article reported Stobie's claims that he had given his Special Branch handlers enough information to prevent Mr Finucane's murder, or at very least to apprehend his killers, members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).

As he left court, Mr Maloney said: "I am delighted at the decision."

He had maintained that he would not hand over the notes and was prepared to go to prison over the issue.

His contention was that the order to hand over such notes was an infringement of journalistic freedoms, and that if he handed them over he could be in danger for his career and his life.

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