NI: NI Assembly insurance policy no longer covers libel and slander settlements
The Northern Ireland Assembly’s insurance policy no longer covers the costs of libel and slander settlements for MLAs, the News Letter reports.
A spokesperson for the Assembly confirmed that the change was made when the insurance policy was renewed in April 2015.
Earlier this month, Phil Flanagan MLA told the High Court in Belfast that he would pay libel damages to Tom Elliott MP in relation to a defamatory and untrue tweet sent in May 2014, at which time Mr Elliott was an MLA.
However, the News Letter reports that court proceedings were delayed due to Mr Flanagan’s expectation that Assembly insurers would cover the cost of the settlement.
Mr Flanagan will bring separate legal action against the insurers later this month because of their refusal to cover the claim.
A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Assembly explained: “Under the terms of the combined policy, the insured is ‘the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission’.
“The policy indemnifies for claims against the ‘insured’, and as both of these individuals are deemed to be ‘the insured’, indemnity does not apply.”
The spokesperson added: “Prior to 2015, the insurance provided cover for ‘personal injury’ which included libel and slander. On renewal of the policy from April 1, 2015, the Assembly Commission was informed that this aspect would no longer be included as part of the standard policy so cover is not included.”