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Northern Irish police return journalist's mobile phone

23 August 2010

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has returned his phone to Derry freelance journalist Eamonn MacDermott following public protests by the NUJ. The phone was seized on Thursday 19 August.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, said that the PSNI was guilty of an unwarranted undermining of Eamonn MacDermott's ability to do his job in safety.

Séamus Dooley said:

"As a freelance journalist, Eamonn MacDermott requires his phone and it is imperative that he is contactable by news desks and commissioning editors. The wider – and more sinister issue, was the threat posed to Eamonn MacDermott's life by the PSNI's action."

Following a series of media interviews by Eamonn MacDermott and Séamus Dooley on Friday, the journalist was contacted by a senior PSNI officer and informed that the SIM card, but not the phone, would be returned within 48 hours. Both were returned on Saturday.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said that the NUJ would support Eamonn MacDermott's right to protect confidential sources in the event of any future court case. Pointing out that, in the Suzanne Breen case, the court had recognised the real threat posed to her life if she was forced to hand over confidential information, Jeremy Dear said:

"The same principles apply in this case. Just as the information contained in her notes was already available to the PSNI in this case the police have advised Eamonn MacDermott that they have accessed his records."

Tags: , police, eamonn macdermott, psni, derry, protection of sources, suzanne breen, confidentiality, phone records