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Solidarity protest outside Belfast court for No Stone Unturned journalists

At the front are Alison Millar, Trevor Birney, Barry McCaffrey, Seamus Dooley & Patrick Corrigan  -  © NUJ

20 March 2019

Journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey were met by a large number of supporters outside court this morning in a joint event organised by the NUJ and Amnesty International.

The gathering was adressed briefly by NUJ Irish secretary Seamus Dooley and Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director. Alison Millar the vice president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) also attended to show support.

Today the lawyers representing Trevor and Barry challenged the search warrants and argued in court that there was no evidence in the public interest for the redactions made to the search warrant applications by Durham Constabulary and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Seamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, said:

"Today’s hearing was technical in nature but hugely important. Justice should be administered in daylight and not in the dark. In order to comprehend the reason why the original warrants were granted it is vital that the entire proceedings are available. Barry, Trevor and their legal teams cannot adequately vindicate their rights with their hands tied behind their back. It is obvious that barriers are being put in place at every turn in this case. The strain on two working journalists and their families cannot be underestimated. Amid the legal arguments and technicalities it would also be easy to forget that those responsible for the Loughinisland murders remain at large, grieving families are still denied justice and only journalists seeking the truth are at risk of criminal convictions."

Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ general secretary, said:

"This case is the biggest specific threat to press freedom in the UK and Ireland at the moment. The arrest of two NUJ members and the ongoing legal threats are an appalling abuse of power and should be a major concern to all journalists and everyone who cares about investigative journalism, human rights and civil liberties."

In August last year Trevor and Barry were arrested, detained, questioned and then released on pre-charge bail. Their homes and offices were also raided in Belfast by detectives from Durham Constabulary.

The journalists have been targeted by the authorities in connection with the the award winning documentary No Stone Unturned.

In Belfast - On Tuesday 26 March as part of the Imagine Festival at Queens Film Theatre, Ciarán Hanna will introduce a screening of No Stone Unturned with a post panel-discussion and Q+A with Barry and Trevor. This event has been organised by and the National Union of Journalists. More details and tickets available online.

In London - On Tuesday 2 April the film will be screened by the Journalism Department at City University and followed by a Q+A with Trevor and Barry alongside journalist Ian Cobain. This public event is free to attend, but places must be booked in advance via the event page.

Amnesty International have set up an online call to action for people to send messages of support to Barry and Trevor.

Tags: , no stone unturned, investigative journalism, ethics, protection of sources, police, durham constabulary, police service of northern ireland, journalist material, journalists arrested, press freedom, northern ireland, belfast, public interest, public interest journalism, courts, protest