PSNI CONCERN WAS IF FILM DAMAGED THEIR ABILITY TO RECRUIT AND MAINTAIN INFORMERS
This is an edited version of a statement issued to Irish-American activists by Niall Murphy, solicitor for film-makers Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey who were arrested at the weekend and questioned about the alleged theft of documents from the Police Ombudsman’s office in Belfast during the production of ‘No Stone Unturned’, the expose of the 1994 Loughinsland killings.
The journalists were arrested and questioned by officers from the Durham police but lawyers for the two men insist the operation was really a PSNI affair.
“….my view is that this was a wholehearted PSNI agenda. No doubts about that. Durham Police and the PSNI were keen to point to Durham’s independence. What should also be noted is that only three Durham Police officers were apparent on Friday, the Senior Investigating Officer Darren Ellis and two detectives asking pre-prepared questions in interview, reading from scripts.
“In addition to these 3 Durham officers the arrest and detention strategy involved well over 100 PSNI officers. There was at least 25-30 officers in attendance at each search location, the two homes and the business address and each Durham detective was attended by a PSNI detective in interview also.
“The senior co-ordinating sergeant supervising the interviews was a PSNI officer as was the custody sergeant who imposed restrictions on the liberty of the two journalists when granting bail. This same custody sergeant also refused to release tape recordings of the interviews in abject departure from ordinary practice.
“In my respectful opinion, this arrest and interview strategy was overwhelmingly directed and executed by officers of the PSNI.
“The arrests occurred on Friday 31 August and as Saturday 1st turned to Sunday 2nd September, Drew Harris assumed his powers as Garda Commissioner in the south. One train of thought might say that this was his parting gift.
“The irony is that the producers of the film, Trevor Birney and Alex Gibney had actually proactively sought out the senior command of the PSNI to TELL THEM that the film would be naming the names of the suspects. ACC Stephen Martin was the senior officer who reposed no concerns other than if the film intending EXPLICITLY revealing that any of the suspects were in fact informers, as that would impact the ability of the PSNI to recruit and maintain informers.
“It is obvious that the interests of the families of those murdered are of little or no concern.
“The Truth Cannot Be Arrested. The film, as you know, premiered in New York on 30 September, (2017). A link was provided to the Police Ombudsman simultaneously with the British premiere in London a week later on 7 October (2017). As such, the Ombudsman had a full week to seek an injunction as did the killers and the police, as the details were widely circulated on social media. No such injunction was taken, nobody has issued libel proceedings (although the 12 month limit to issue proceedings doesn’t expire until 7 October) and press complaints lodged against newspapers were all dismissed.
“This arrest strategy is an utter farce solely directed at intimidating those who seek to expose state involvement in murder. Journalists today, NGO’s, lawyers and families tomorrow…
“‘A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny’.
“Ironically this is a quote from Winston Churchill…”