Derry mayor demands apology after police launch raid on his home
The PSNI has defended its decision to search of the home of Londonderry mayor Kevin Campbell — saying the operation was “carefully and properly considered”.
The Sinn Fein councillor has demanded an apology and explanation from the police after his home in the Creggan area of the city was raided in the early hours of Friday morning.
Police seized two laptops, a video camera and mobile phones from his property.
Mr Campbell, elected mayor of Derry last month, intends to contact the Police Ombudsman after officers searched his home at 4.30am.
The raid was part of a wider PSNI operation against paramilitary-style assaults carried out at a number of addresses in Derry.
The search went ahead after a degree of confusion among officers on the ground who suggested to Mr Campbell that the order may have been a mistake.
After five hours of waiting for clarification, the raid went ahead and lasted 90 minutes.
Mr Campbell, a former member of the District Policing Partnership in Derry, said he intends to lodge a formal complaint with the Police Ombudsman as soon as it re-opens after the bank holiday.
He said: “I was at home alone watching the news at 10.30pm when the police came down through the garden,” he said.
“I went out to the front door and saw a policeman I recognised from my time in the DPP and he clearly recognised me.
“We talked in first name terms and he asked me who lived in the house, and when I told him it was my home he was clearly confused and asked if there was anyone else in the house, but I assured him there was no-one.
“He didn't come in then, but said their intelligence was telling them another individual was at my home address, which in nonsense.”
Mr Campbell said an officer stayed at the front and back doors while ‘senior people’ in Belfast were contacted.
“The exchanges between the officers on the ground and those in Belfast continued right up until 4am when they entered my home and searched it for an hour-and-a-half,” he said.
“They removed two laptops, one of which is the property of Derry City Council, and the other was a notebook used by my 10-year-old daughter. They also took three old mobile phones and a hand-held video camera.”
The mayor believes the go-ahead to search his home was intelligence-led, and called into question the reliance the PSNI placed on this type of information.
The PSNI last night released a statement defending its search of Mr Campbell’s home.
“An ongoing investigation into paramilitary-style assaults and shootings required a number of searches to be undertaken in the city of Derry,” it said. “The necessity of these searches was properly and carefully considered.
“The policing operation was fast moving and fluid and required police to actively pursue suspects believed to be involved.
“Senior police commanders have met with Sinn Fein representatives in the city this afternoon to discuss police actions.
“Police remain committed to tackling the scourge of of paramilitary-style assaults and shootings.”
Mr Campbell said the police had “egg on their face”.
“My reputation and standing in this city as a result of this debacle is untarnished but the same cannot be said for the PSNI.
“They must explain their actions to me and to the people of Derry, and they must also apologise to me,” he said.