Northern Ireland

Loughinisland: Material seized from journalists to be returned

Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney attended the High Court hearing on Monday

Computers, phones and documents seized by police from two investigative journalists in Belfast are to be handed back to the reporters on Tuesday.

It was confirmed in court on Monday that police had gathered the material together over the weekend to give back to Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey.

The court was told Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin had fast-tracked the gathering of the material.

It is now available for collection at Castlereagh Police Station in Belfast.

The material was seized as part of an investigation into the suspected theft of confidential documents from the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman's office.

The journalists are expected to pick it up on Tuesday morning, nine months after it was seized.

The reporters have given a guarantee to the court that they will not alter or destroy the material for 28 days.

This means the police, if they choose, could seek to seize the material using different legal means during this 28-day period.

The material was taken from their homes and offices.

Items seized include memory cards, cameras, phones, computers, cassettes and thousands of files containing millions of pages.

High Court judges last week ruled that the search warrants issued against the two journalists last year were "inappropriate".

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The attack in Loughinisland took place in June 1994 at the Heights Bar

At the time of the searches, the journalists were arrested.

The investigative journalists were involved in a documentary film No Stone Unturned, which examined the Royal Ulster Constabulary's handling of the Loughinisland killings by the UVF in 1994.

The High Court judicial review was heard by Lord Chief Justice Morgan, Lord Justice Treacy and Mrs Justice Keegan.

Mr Birney and Mr McCaffrey attended the hearing throughout, along with a number of supporters including fellow journalists.

Conservative MP and former Brexit secretary David Davis was among those at court supporting the two journalists last week.

Mr Birney and Mr McCaffrey remain on bail under live police investigation.

Six Catholic men were shot dead at Loughinisland, Co Down, after UVF gunmen opened fire in a village pub as their victims watched a World Cup football match.

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