Loughinisland: Raid warrants on journalists to be quashed
Warrants to carry out raids on the homes and offices of two Belfast journalists are to be quashed, the High Court has ruled.
Authorisation for the searches that led to the arrests of Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey were inappropriate, senior judges said.
A further hearing will determine whether documents seized in the operation should be returned.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which filed an intervener brief on behalf of a significant number of US based news and media outlets and organisations, welcomed the decision made by the 3 judge court sitting at Belfast today.
They relate to a police investigation into the murder of six men in 1994.
Mr Birney and Mr McCaffrey produced a documentary about the killings of Catholic men in a bar in Loughinisland in County Down.
Gunmen from the loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) opened fire in the village pub as their victims watched a World Cup football match.
After a two-day hearing, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: “We are minded to quash the warrants on the basis that they were inappropriate, whatever the other arguments.”
The award-winning investigative journalists were involved in the documentary film No Stone Unturned, which examined the Royal Ulster Constabulary’s (RUC) handling of the Loughinisland atrocity.
They were detained in August last year, questioned and later released during an operation undertaken by detectives from Durham Constabulary, supported by Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers.
Judicial review proceedings were brought in a bid to have the warrants declared unlawful.
All of the seized material remains sealed, with police having given an undertaking not to examine any of the documents and computer equipment pending the outcome of the legal action.
Source; BBC News online