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Bail extension for No Stone Unturned journalists "a travesty of justice"

30 November 2018

The decision of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to extend the bail of journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey has been described as "a travesty of justice" by the National Union of Journalists in the UK and Ireland (NUJ).

The journalists will remain on bail until Friday 1 March 2019.

Trevor and Barry reported for questioning to Musgrave PSNI station today as a consequence of their arrest in August 2018 and in connection with their work on the award winning documentary film about the Loughinisland massacre called No Stone Unturned.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said the extension of bail was "a travesty of justice" as he addressed journalists gathered outside the police station. He added:

"We had naively hoped that the PSNI would lift the threat of prosecution against Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey. The Police Ombudsman has stated that no complaint has been made to his office of a theft of confidential documentation, thus removing the central plank of this vindictive investigation. 
"The decision to extend bail until 1 March is a continued threat to the liberty of two investigative journalists. 
"The NUJ is renewing our call to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, to intervene on this issue. The rights of Trevor and Barry, under international law and under the Good Friday Agreement are clearly undermined by their treatment at the hands of the PSNI and Durham Constabulary."

Amnesty International also issued a statement today. Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

"Be under no illusion, the arrests of journalists and the seizure of their documents and computer equipment threatens press freedom in Northern Ireland.
"The arrest of two of the most widely respected journalists in Northern Ireland has sent a shiver of fear through media in the region.
"Journalists must be free to investigate and expose issues of public concern without fear of arrest. When the police are arresting journalists who have investigated police collusion in the killing of civilians, rather than the killers and their helpers, then we all should be deeply worried."

Ten years of research went into the documentary, which tells the story of a brutal massacre in a country pub in 1994 when masked men gunned down football fans, leaving six dead and five injured. The film also reveals a litany of corruption involving police, paramilitary gangs and the army - before, during and after the killings.

In response, the NUJ has launched a campaign calling for the immediate lifting of the threat of legal action.

Trevor and Barry will be in London for a special screening of the film at the NUJ’s head office in Kings Cross on Thursday 6 December starting at 19.00.

Tickets for the event cost £8.14. All the proceeds from the night will go to NUJ Extra, the union’s charity for members in need.

To book your ticket - please visit the event page online.

Tags: , no stone unturned, police service of northern ireland, police ombudsman of northern ireland, northern ireland, belfast, official secrets act, public interest, public interest journalism, press freedom, ethics