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Belfast High Court to rule on No Stone Unturned warrants today

31 May 2019

NUJ members will attend the High Court in Belfast at 14.00 today to hear the decision of three appeal judges who are expected to quash warrants granted last August to the PSNI and Durham police constabulary against Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey.  

Lord chief justice Morgan said on Wednesday that the issues of warrants to the two journalists, arising from their work on a documentary about the Loughinisland massacre, No Stone Unturned, was inappropriate. Today the High Court will formally quashed the warrants, deeming them to be illegal. 

In hearings over two days earlier this week the Lord chief justice stressed the right of journalists to abide by the NUJ code of conduct in seeking to protect confidential sources of information. 

On Wednesday the chief justice said the work of journalists was necessary in holding the state to account, "particularly in a society like ours where confidence in the institutions is so important". 

Today the chief justice is expected to formally quash the warrants. He will also make orders in relation to the confidential material and equipment seized by the police in the raids on the journalists' homes and office. 

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, said:

"We would hope material would be retuned immediately and that the PSNI will bring this entire farce to an end. Trevor and Barry have not been charged but are on police bail until September.  
"The attitude of the PSNI and Durham Constabulary has been profoundly disappointing and it is evident that their mission has been to frustrate at every turn the work of the two journalists. 
"In light of the comments of the chief justice and in anticipation of a decision to quash the orders granted at an ex-parte hearing I would call on the PSNI to stop the witch hunt against Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney and concentrate instead on bringing those responsible for the Loughinisland massacre to justice."

Tags: , no stone unturned, belfast, public interest, public interest journalism, courts, legal action, legal challenge, legal support, code of conduct, ethics