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Sunday, 1 October, 2000, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Paper's anger over 'gagging'

Sunday People: "Gagging order violates principle of free press"
A Sunday newspaper has been prevented from publishing further details of allegations of security force collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.

For the second week running the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has obtained a court order against the Northern Ireland edition of the Sunday People.

The paper has published reports alleging that a special army unit had colluded with loyalists in a number of attacks including the killing of Francisco Notorantonio in Belfast in 1987.

In a statement released on Saturday, the newspaper said it had gone back to the High Court on Friday to fight the gagging order for a second time but had failed in its attempt to overturn it.

"Incredibly, the judge again ruled that the result be kept secret from the public," the newspaper said in a statement.


It means other allegations of great significance cannot be brought to the attention of the public

Greg Harkin
Sunday People NI editor
It added that "even more draconian measures to silence and censor" the Sunday People had now been introduced but it was not allowed to say what those measures were.

"But we do vow to fight this latest astonishing attack on press freedom."

The newspaper said the measures sought by Mr Hoon contravened the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights.

"It puts him totally at odds with the Human Rights Act 1998 which comes into force next week," said the paper.

Sunday People editor Neil Wallis said he was furious at the legal challenge.

"It is amazing that the government and security services should be able to gag what is supposed to be a free press.

Sunday People Northern Ireland editor Greg Harkin said the allegations the paper was making were clearly in the public's interest and he criticised the government for trying to silence his newspaper.

"It means other allegations of great significance cannot be brought to the attention of the public."

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