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NUJ gravely concerned at arrest of Irish journalists

31 August 2018

The National Union of Journalists has expressed “grave concern” at the arrests this morning of two journalists in Northern Ireland.

Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey were arrested in connection with an investigation by Durham constabulary into alleged theft of documents from the office of the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland.

Seamus Dooley, acting general secretary, NUJ UK &  Ireland, said:

“These arrests are related to the highly significant documentary No Stone Unturned which deals with the murders of six people at The Heights Bar, Loughinisland in 1994. The documentary raises serious questions about the police investigation into Loughinisland and it is deeply worrying that the focus of police attention should be on journalists rather than on the issues raised in the documentary.

"The protection of journalistic sources of confidential information is of vital importance and journalists must be free to operate in the public interest without police interference. These journalists are entitled to claim journalistic privilege and to seek the protection of the legal system  if there is any attempt to force them to reveal sources.

"We note the confiscation of computers and data held by Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey. Every step must be taken to ensure that data held on computers is not compromised and that the confidentiality of the sources are not put in jeopardy.

"Journalists throughout the UK and Ireland will support Trevor and Barry in any stand they take to lawfully protect their confidential sources.  It is profoundly depressing to note that, yet again, priority appears to be given to tracking down the source of journalistic stories rather than solving murders in Northern Ireland.”

Tags: , Trevor Birney, Barry McCaffrey, northern ireland, Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland, protection of sources, journalists arrested, no stone unturned