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14 October 2004 Edition

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'Stormontgate' charges dropped

A West Belfast businessman has described himself as 'relieved but angry' after changes made against him were dropped after a 16-month ordeal. William Tierney, a former republican prisoner from West Belfast, was arrested in June 2003 and charged with possession of information.

Before his arrest, Tierney alleged that Special Branch had attempted to recruit him as an informer. A lawyer acting on Tierney's behalf said the arrest and charging of his client had been "a calculated injustice".

The DPP withdrew the charge without comment but Tierney's solicitor said the charge was dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Tierney was one of five people charged in connection with the so-called 'Stormontgate' controversy. Earlier this year, the most serious charges against the defendants and those cited as leading to the Assembly's collapse were also dropped by the DPP. Charges against a fourth person were dropped last December.

Meanwhile, the British authorities are attempting to prevent the disclosure of documents in relation to charges against the three remaining defendants, a former porter William Mackessy, Sinn Féin's Dennis Donaldson and his son-in-law Ciarán Kearney.

"It is an ongoing concern that wide ranging, unjustified allegations can have a profound political impact and remain unsubstantiated. A trial date is unlikely this year," said a solicitor acting for Kearney.

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