A judge has decided not to recuse himself from the trial of an employee of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who has been accused of leaking confidential and sensitive information two years ago in connection with a murder case.

Jonathan Lennon, 35, from Clonee, Dublin 15, has pleaded not guilty to breaking the Official Secrets Act in relation to criminal proceedings resulting from the murder of Peter Butterly.

The trial was due to begin this morning in Dublin District Court but Mr Lennon objected to Judge John Hughes hearing the case on the basis that "a perception of bias" could arise and this was "a sensitive case".

Before he was appointed Judge Hughes worked as the State solicitor for Co Offaly from 2012 to 2018 and had dealings with the DPP's office.

Staff from the DPP's office are due to give evidence in the trial.

Judge Hughes said he did not believe a perception of bias arose and he said he was quite satisfied that he did not have any bias.

He said he did not know the witnesses from the DPP's office personally, he would not know them to see, although he would have had a working relationship with some of them.

He also said the existence of a connection is not the test in law but whether an objective observer could reasonably consider that he could be biased.

Judge Hughes refused to recuse himself and said he was satisfied the accused could be tried without any suspicion or taint of bias.

It is alleged that on 7 September 2017 and the following day, at a place unknown in Dublin and without authorisation, Mr Lennon communicated with another person official information within the possession, custody or control of the DPP, a holder of public office, relating to the prosecution of individuals arising from the murder of Peter Butterly on 6 March 2013.

Butterly was shot dead by a real IRA gang in the car park of the Huntsman Inn in Gormanstown, Co Meath.

Four dissident republicans are serving life in prison for his murder while three others are serving sentences for related offences.