‘If I am prosecuted I intend to defend any charge against me – John Lanigan.
One of the organisers of a mass loyalist protest through Belfast City Centre has accused the Parades Commission and the PSNI/RUC of attempting to “influence” the prosecution service to bring a case against him. Ex-British armed forces soldier, John Lanigan was identified as the organiser of the December 2 Loyal Peoples Protest parade where an application was made for 10,000 supporters and 40 bands, to march along Royal Avenue on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
In the end just over 1,000 people attended the march. Two police officers were injured in scuffles in North Belfast as protesters were trying to force an illegel march past the Ardoyne shops on their return journey home from the city centre parade. Protesters also flouted a commission determination by remaining at the city hall for over an hour after the area should have been cleared while there were other further breaches of the ruling. Despite repeated calls for the parade’s applicant to be named and identified, the Parades Commission and the police had refused to reveal who had signed the parade application. Lanigan’s identity was subsequently revealed by The Irish News. However, on Monday he hit out claiming that elements of the media, the PSNI/RUC and Parades Commission were putting out “incorrect and misleading” information about him, although he did not say what this was. He further claimed his computer has been “hecked” and accused police and the Parades Commission of making statements that were a “transparent attempt to influence and put pressure on the PPS to prosecute” him.
In a statement released through his solicitor Mr Lanigan, who is orginally from Belfast but lives in Antrim, said he would make complaints to both the Police Ombudsman and the Press Complaints Commission about his alleged treatment. Mr Lanigan also said his picture has appeared on republican websites and claimed he had received threats. “As a result of this parade I have been vilified in the local media,” he said. “I cooperated with police at all times. I was very anxious that there would be no trouble at the parade and thankfully, the parade passed off peacefully”. He added: “If I am prosecuted I intend to defend any charge against me. I have since had my photograph published, both in newspapers and social media websites, as well as republican websites. “I have received threats against me and I consider these threats to be against both my life and my family’s lives. “I beleive that my personal computer was has been hecked into, as well as my private page on social media. “I have instructed my solicitor to issue complaints to both the police ombudsman and the Press Complaints Commission and take any other action to defend both my privacy and incorrect reports about me, as well as hoping to ensure there is no further unwelome instruction (sic) into my private life”.