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NUJ fury as police step up bid to thwart No Stone Unturned campaign

1 March 2019

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK and Ireland has condemned an attempt by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Durham Constabulary to restrict the freedom of investigative journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey from commenting on their case while on police bail.

In an extraordinary move today the police made an attempt to silence the makers of the award-winning documentary No Stone Unturned. The two have been on pre-charge bail since their arrest in August 2018 in connection with the documentary about the Loughinisland massacre. Today their bail was extended until September 2019.

The Police attempted to amend the existing bail conditions to prevent the journalists from talking publicly about the ongoing police investigation and witnesses. The attempt was successfully opposed by lawyers for the two NUJ members.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said:

"This was a blatant attempt to thwart the massive international campaign against the arrest of two journalists whose only crime is their search for truth and justice. International awareness, cross community support and growing media interests in this violation of human rights is clearly proving embarrassing. This crude attempt to suppress our campaign in support of Trevor and Barry shows the truth of the adage ‘truth hurts’. Barry and Trevor have won overwhelming support because it is clear to all who care about justice that these arrests cannot be justified. The extension of bail until September 2019 is a travesty and imposes ongoing hardship on our members, their families and colleagues.

"These journalists are being punished because they have exposed brutal human rights abuses in Northern Ireland. The legal threats, harassment and intimidation must stop. A free press is critical to the health of democracy and freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. The police should not be allowed to continue to violate basic media freedoms."  

This week American documentary film director, Alex Gibney, has written about the campaign for the New York Review of Books - How the Truth of ‘The Troubles’ Is Still Suppressed.

Al Jazeera has also featured the campaign in its latest edition of the Listening Post - Documenting the Troubles: Journalism and justice over Northern Ireland.

Tags: , ethics, public interest, public interest journalism, documentary, film, belfast, northern ireland, trevor birney, barry mccaffrey, no stone unturned, police, durham constabulary, police service of northern ireland