herald

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Norris U-turn as he considers showing letters

DAVID Norris's campaign team today left the door open to publish the controversial clemency letters he penned on behalf of a convicted rapist.

Sources close to the senator have indicated that he has abandoned all hope that the controversy will "blow over" and he may decide to release some of them.

And the presidential hopeful has hinted for the first time as to what some of the letters may contain.

He suggested that at least one of them contained information on phone conversations he overheard from Ezra Nawi's 15-year-old statutory rape victim.

"Ezra and I's intimate relationship ceased after about three years, but I loved him and to some extent I still love him, so I went there [Nawi's home], painful as it was," said Mr Norris.

Friendly

"I used to sleep in the living room on a made-up bed and phone calls would come in early in the morning and I didn't know what they were about. I discovered subsequently that they had something to do with this case."

His previous arguments that the letters cannot be released for legal reasons have been dismissed by legal experts.

And the senator appears to have done a U-turn, with his campaign team admitting today that the letters may be released at some point during the campaign.

When asked directly about the letters, Mr Norris said: "I just don't know at the moment but I have to protect vulnerable people. And as I've said from the beginning: collateral damage, it's not fair.

"I'll take it on the chin but I'm not going to stand by and see other people being hit by friendly fire on my behalf. I'll take the bullets."

And his spokesperson today admitted to the Herald: "Who knows? Never say never."

Asked if Mr Norris had any response to legal experts who have poured cold water on claims that the letters are protected by legal privilege, the spokesperson said: "David is not a solicitor. We are getting legal advice on the issue."

Mr Norris's opponents are continuing to heap pressure on him to release the letters -- which were sent to political figures including former president Mary Robinson.

After Taoiseach Enda Kenny called for all candidates to be "upfront", Independent hopeful Mary Davis said that it was "only right and proper" that the backgrounds of all candidates be scrutinised.

hnews@herald.ie

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