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The hearing into claims that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has been covertly monitoring Northern Ireland journalists reported in my recent blog was adjourned in London last week when the PSNI provided the Investigative Powers Tribunal with a large volume of material on the morning of the proposed hearing

A lawyer representing journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey described the case as a “shambles” after the court had been handed a further 78 pages of evidence. Ben Jaffey KC accused the PSNI of an “obdurate lack of understanding” of the points being raised.

“Information has not been provided until well beyond the last possible moment,” he said.

Campaigners say the documents provided by the PSNI show that another journalist from a different organisation had been subject to similar treatment. The NUJ called on any members who thought they might have been placed under surveillance to get in touch for advice.

Justice Rabinder Singh adjourned the Investigative Powers Tribunal hearing so the new evidence could be considered. It is expected that the hearing will resume in September.

Meanwhile several civil rights organisations in Belfast have urged the Northern Ireland Policing Board to begin an investigation into claims that the PSNI has been monitoring journalists.

Amnesty NI and the Committee on the Administration of Justice joined with the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) to urge the investigation .

Amnesty (NI) said it was now incumbent on the PSNI’s oversight body, the Policing Board, to push hard for answers on the levels of PSNI surveillance. Amnesty’s Patrick Corrigan said PSNI Chief Constable Jon Boutcher had so far declined to answer the questions already asked. He concluded that it was incumbent on the Policing Board to live up to their responsibilities to hold the police accountable.


Pic: L-R: Lawyer Niall Murphy, The Detail editor Trevor Birney, journalist Barry McCaffrey, lawyer John Finucane. Photo courtesy of Sarah Kavanagh