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Loughinisland killings: arrests an "attempt to intimidate journalists and whistleblowers"
7.9.18
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"A search and arrest operation during an investigation into the suspected theft of confidential documents from the Police Ombudsman's Office was an attempt to intimidate journalists and whistleblowers, the High Court heard today.

Counsel for the company behind a documentary into the loyalist murders of six men in the 1994 Loughinisland massacre claimed police had abused their powers.

Two award-winning journalists involved in the film 'No Stone Unturned', Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey, were arrested, questioned and released last week as part of the probe.

Detectives from Durham Constabulary, supported by officers from the PSNI, also searched three properties in Belfast - two residential and the third a business premises.

Lawyers representing the documentary maker Fine Point Films went to court, are now challenging the legality of the search warrant.

They claim it did not cover all of the material seized.

Police have given an undertaking not to examine any of the documents and computer equipment pending the outcome of the legal action."

See: Loughinisland documents probe an attempt to intimidate journalists, court told (The Irish News, link)

The National Union of Journalists has opened a petition in support of Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey: Support investigative journalists under threat: sign the petition (NUJ, link):

"Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said the petition is an opportunity to express solidarity with the journalists and makers of the documentary No Stone Unturned, an examination of the six unsolved murders in an attack at Loughinisland, County Down, Northern Ireland in 1994. The documentary raises serious questions about the police investigation into the attack by a Loyalist paramilitary gang."

Background: Loughinisland killings: journalists arrested over alleged document theft (The Guardian, link):

"Two investigative journalists who worked on Alex Gibney’s documentary about the Loughinisland massacre in Northern Ireland have been arrested over the alleged theft of confidential documents.

Officers from Durham constabulary detained Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey in Belfast on Friday over the use of material allegedly stolen from the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI).

Gibney said the arrests were outrageous and that police should instead have reopened the investigation into the 1994 massacre in which a loyalists murdered six Catholics.

In a tweet, he said the film had exposed the failure of police to properly investigate the massacre. “Police reaction? Re-open murder investigation? No. Arrest the truth tellers,” the Oscar-winning director wrote.

The documentary, released last year, cited evidence of blunders, coverup and collusion between police and the Ulster Volunteer Force killers."

 

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