Belfast Telegraph

Officer probed over Jamie Bryson flag protest case

By Rebecca Black

A female PSNI officer could be prosecuted over her conduct during a police investigation into Jamie Bryson over the flag protests, it can be revealed.

The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI) investigated a number of complaints from Mr Bryson, and has now sent a file to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) over an allegation that the officer made inappropriate use of social media.

It will be up to the PPS to decide if there is a case to answer.

Mr Bryson was arrested in March 2013 by police for questioning about public order offences and briefly remanded in custody before being released on a number of conditions.

His arrest came at the height of the flag protests where scores of loyalists took to the streets to take part in rallies against a decision by Belfast City Council to cut the number of days the Union flag was flown from City Hall.

He stood trial in 2015 and was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence for taking part in unlawful public processions. Mr Bryson unsuccessfully appealed the conviction in 2016.

He went on to make a complaint to the Police Ombudsman about the PSNI officers involved in the investigation. PONI confirmed it has passed a file about a female police officer to the PPS.

A PONI spokesman said: "We have completed an investigation into allegations that a police officer made inappropriate use of social media.

"As is normal practice when we receive allegations of a potentially criminal nature, we have submitted a file to the Public Prosecution Service for their consideration. We are now awaiting their direction on this matter."

In a letter following the conclusion of the investigation into a number of complaints raised by Mr Bryson - seen by the Belfast Telegraph - PONI also found that a police officer provided an "inaccurate account to the court" with regards to the circumstances of the loyalist's arrest.

However, PONI found that the officer had simply made a mistake, having been given little notice about having to attend court to give evidence, and did not have sufficient time to study the evidence.

Mr Bryson told the Belfast Telegraph he plans to seek damages from the PSNI, adding that he feels he deserves an apology.

PSNI Superintendent Ian Campbell said: "As there is an ongoing PONI investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further."

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