No Stone Unturned judicial review begins in Belfast
Outside the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast - © Private
28 May 2019
A police raid of the Belfast homes and office of two investigative journalists will be challenged as part of a judicial review starting at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast on Tuesday morning and scheduled to run for three days.
NUJ members Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey were arrested and questioned by police in August 2018 in connection with the documentary film No Stone Unturned. The pair have not been charged and remain on bail until September 2019.
The judicial review will focus on the legitimacy of the search warrants used by police to carry out the raids, both the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Durham Constabulary are involved in the ongoing criminal investigation.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"Now more than ever we need critical, bold, outstanding investigative journalism that is in the public interest. Democracy is in danger without it.
"Journalists should never be targeted for simply doing their jobs and for shining a light on human rights abuses in Northern Ireland and crucially the state's complicity in the killing of civilians.
"The continuing legal threats faced by Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey and the way the search warrants were granted and used can not go unchallenged.
"This case has huge ramifications for the whole media industry and the NUJ will do everything it can to support those who fight for the truth."
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director, said:
"This case is crucial to the freedom of the press in the UK. Journalists must be free to investigate issues of public concern without fear of arrest and imprisonment.
"When armed police are raiding the homes of journalists, while helping killers evade justice, there is something deeply wrong.
"Simon Byrne, the newly-appointed PSNI chief constable, ought to be deeply troubled by this case and the reputational damage it is causing the police force he is now set to lead.
"If he is wise, he will draw a line under this affair, apologise to Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney and commit the PSNI to putting the Loughinisland killers, rather than journalists, behind bars."
Due to the significance of the judicial review, the Media Lawyers Association, an association of in-house media lawyers from newspapers, magazines, book publishers, broadcasters and news agencies in the UK, have intervened in the case and freedom of expression groups, English PEN and Index on Censorship, have also submitted evidence and called for the search warrants to be ruled unlawful.