Investigative journalists reach settlement with PSNI
Investigative journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey, who won a judicial review in connection with police raids on their homes and office, have reached a settlement with the PSNI.
The journalists were arrested and questioned by police in August 2018, shortly after the release of their documentary film about the Loughinisland massacre, No Stone Unturned.
The raids and arrests, part of an operation led by Durham Constabulary with PSNI support, were based on the suspected theft of confidential documents from the office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI).
However, the warrants authorising the search of their homes and business premises were later quashed by judges in Belfast and the criminal investigation was dropped.
As well as a payout of reportedly £875,000, the PSNI has agreed to destroy all forensic samples linked to the case including photographs, fingerprints and DNA. Durham Constabulary and the PSNI have also agreed to delete all original copies, downloads and extracts of the material they took from the journalists.
Durham Constabulary and the PSNI will retain a limited amount of material for the purpose of dealing with any potential judicial, quasi-judicial, disciplinary or other further proceedings but those materials will be held by the Crown Solicitor’s Office.
Some of the data held by Durham Constabulary on backup tapes has now been destroyed, and some data will be destroyed one year after the data was last backed up. The PSNI backup tapes relating to the case will be destroyed in the usual way after 10 years, and until this time both Durham Constabulary and the PSNI shall each install a gatekeeper system to restrict all access to this information.