Former Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has lost a legal battle with insurer AIG after it refused to cover a libel award of £48,705 made against him.
Flanagan, who was not re-elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly last May, sent a tweet implying Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott had shot people during his previous career as an Ulster Defence Regiment soldier in 2014. In February, Flanagan was ordered to pay £48,750 in compensation to Elliott for the defamatory remarks.
AIG, the insurer used by Norther Ireland Assembly members, refused to cover the claim on the basis its policy did not cover Libel cases between MLAs and the tweet did not relate to parliamentary business.
A judge rejected those submissions, but ruled AIG was entitled to withhold cover because Flanagan knew the remarks were defamatory when they were sent and took no precautions before publishing the tweet.
The Belfast Telegraph
reports the judge ruled Flanagan’s tweet was written to personally attack Elliott.
“The question presupposed Mr Elliott had harassed and shot people and the only issue was whether he would reveal the number that he had harassed and the number he had shot,” the judge said.
Flanagan was also ordered to pay the legal costs of his failed action.
AIG debuts crowdfunding insurance product in UK, Canada
AIG’s US$1.2 billion stake in Chinese insurer up for sale