PSNI joins colleagues in Paris to seize footage of New IRA taken before and after fatal shooting
Dissident republicans were filmed by a French documentary crew in the days before and after the murder of Lyra McKee.
PSNI detectives investigating the killing of the journalist and author searched the offices of a television production company in Paris yesterday.
The raid was led by two French judges, with the assistance of local police.
They seized footage taken in Derry’s Creggan estate.
The crew, who had exclusive access to members of the New IRA, left the jurisdiction without handing over what they had filmed.
From north Belfast, but having recently moved to Derry, Ms McKee was fatally hit by a bullet in April 2019 while observing a riot.
The New IRA claimed responsibility for the shooting.
The violence was orchestrated while an MTV documentary crew was making a film about dissidents presented by DJ turned filmmaker Reggie Yates.
The French footage was not part of the MTV documentary.
The production company working with MTV handed over all its footage within hours of the shooting and left the jurisdiction shortly afterwards.
It said at the time: “We can confirm that a production company was filming a documentary series for MTV in Northern Ireland and was present in the Creggan area where journalist Lyra McKee was tragically shot and killed.”
It later released a statement saying the documentary had been cancelled and would never be shown.
It said: “Following the incident, and in full agreement with the producers, we ceased production of that episode out of respect for Lyra’s family.”
The PSNI said in December 2020: “The (MTV) producers have been fully cooperative in relation to the investigation of Lyra’s murder.”
The MTV footage was referenced this year during a bail hearing for two men accused over disorder on the night the 29-year-old died.
A court was told in September evidence against Patrick Gallagher (29) and Jude McCrory (24) was based on video captured by MTV.
Both are accused of rioting and throwing petrol bombs.
The programme makers filmed with republican group Saoradh just hours before Ms McKee was shot dead by the New IRA. Saoradh is widely believed to be the political wing of the New IRA.
A defence lawyer representing both men said the PSNI had the footage in its possession since April 2019.
The Belfast Telegraph understands MTV had only been filming in Derry for one day when the shooting took place.
However, the French crew had been here for some time and had been in Derry for the week of the murder of Ms McKee, remaining to film an Easter commemoration in Milltown Cemetery in Belfast organised by Saoradh two days later.
During that time they were facilitated by a member of the party, who was able to secure them exclusive access to senior dissident republicans.
That man has since stood down from the party.
The crew returned to France with the footage, which has not been made public but is believed to include an interview with a member of the New IRA.
The PSNI said: “A European Investigation Order was carefully considered, sought and granted by Belfast Crown Court and the search was later approved and supported by senior members of the French judiciary.
“A number of items have been recovered for further examination.”
In a PSNI crackdown on the New IRA, 17 men have been charged with dissident republican activity, a dozen of them in connection with disturbances on the night of the murder.
Paul McIntyre (52), from Derry, has been charged with murder, possession of a firearm and membership of a proscribed organisation.
The teenager who fired the fatal shot has never been charged.
The gun used was recovered in June last year in the Ballymagroarty area of the city.
It was stolen in 2008 in an armed robbery in Garrison, Co Fermanagh, by three masked men.
In the past journalists have refused to cooperate with law enforcement unless a court order was supplied, saying handing over any evidence willingly could put their lives at risk.
The conviction of a number of republicans for one of the most high-profile double killings of the Troubles was secured with the help of news footage seized by the RUC from a French news channel.
Corporals David Howes and Derek Wood were dragged from their car on west Belfast’s Andersonstown Road in 1998 by mourners attending the funeral of Caoimhín Mac Brádaigh, one of three people killed by loyalist Michael Stone at Milltown Cemetery a few days earlier.