Tuesday, June 04, 2019

A victory for press freedom in the UK

In 2017, journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey released the documentary No Stone Unturned. The documentary investigated the 1994 Loughinisland massacre in which six people were murdered by the Ulster Volunteer Force, a crime for which no-one has ever been brought to justice. It named the main suspects (including a British soldier), and explored the possibility of police collusion in the murders. But rather than acting on the new information to bring the murderers to justice, the Northern Ireland Police raided the journalists' homes and arrested them on suspicion of stealing confidential documents.

Last week, in a decision reminiscent of our own one on the Hager case, a judge threw out the police's search warrant and ordered that the journalists' documents be returned. And today, the police finally dropped all charges:

Police in England and Northern Ireland have dropped a controversial investigation into journalists who made a documentary about a Troubles atrocity, following a public outcry and a stinging rebuke from judges.

The Durham constabulary and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) announced on Monday night that they were no longer investigating Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey over their work on No Stone Unturned, a film about the murder of six Catholics in Loughinisland, County Down, in 1994.

The journalists were immediately released from police bail and, on Tuesday can retrieve computers, files, phones and other material that had been seized.

Its a victory for press freedom in the UK. But now the police have been told they can not persecute people for trying to hold them to account, maybe they'll do their actual job and find the murderers? Or should we just take this entire debacle as their collective admission of guilt?