Belfast Telegraph

'I won't be gagged' insists Jamie Bryson - blogger to report police to Ombudsman after arrest

By Gareth Cross

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson has insisted he won't be silenced after his arrest by police on Thursday.

He said that he is planning to file a report to the Police Ombudsman on Monday, and alleged police tipped off journalists prior to his arrest and invited a number to accompany them.

Police confirmed that a 28-year-old man was arrested after Paramilitary Crime Task Force and Security Industry Authority (SIA) searches in Ards and North Down.

The PSNI said his arrest was part on an ongoing investigation into criminality linked to the east Belfast UVF.

Chief Constable George Hamilton commended the 'good work' of the Paramilitary Crime Task Force and SIA.

Mr Bryson was arrested on suspicion of unlawfully supplying door staff and a number of items were seized during the searches.

Mr Bryson, who is listed at Companies House as a director of JJ Security Services Ltd, has denied any wrongdoing.

In a video posted after his release on Thursday evening Mr Bryson claimed that after hours of questioning at Musgrave Police Station police said he had been bailed pending further enquiries, a claim Mr Bryson denies, saying he refused to accept bail under the conditions put forward by police.

Mr Bryson claimed during interview police put no evidence to him promising to upload the audio of his police interview to the internet later on Friday.

He said that police attempted to release him without charge but wanted to put conditions on his release including that he would not be able to tell anyone anything about his arrest.

Mr Bryson said that among the items seized by police were journalistic materials and he would be going to an arbitrator to stop police from examining them.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph on Friday morning Mr Bryson rejected police claims that the searches were linked to an investigation linked to the UVF.

"The search warrant has no reference to any paramilitary activity or membership, therefore the police have no reasonable grounds for suspecting that," the Unionist Voice blogger said.

"How can you tell a man, 'you are not allowed to tell anybody what happened to you, but we are going to set the public narrative ourselves'."

"We are looking at legislation to confirm if some of it is even in effect in Northern Ireland and the next stage will be a case for unlawful detention."

He said that he would be filing a complaint with the Police Ombudsman on Monday in relation to his arrest.

"My objective in all of this is to get before a judge and I would like a judge to assess the legality of telling someone they are not allowed to talk to any person about an arrest, there hasn't even been any charges," Mr Bryson said.

"The PSNI tipped off a number of journalists and pushed my name forward to them before putting out a statement which effectively jigsaw identified me. They had also discussed with journalists the opportunity of taking a ride-along with them to try and get someone to spectate at my arrest.

"This will form the basis of a Police Ombudsman complaint on Monday. It's entirely inappropriate, especially in light of the Cliff Richard judgement recently.

"The complaint will be in relation to a number of the strands of the police investigation."

Mr Bryson said that he felt he was being targeted because he was a high profile voice for loyalism who challenged police on issues.

"I think they are trying to exploit my high profile and to blacken me, if the PSNI have any evidence whatsoever of any links to criminality associated with a paramilitary organisation then why are they not searching my home and arresting me and questioning me under the terrorism act instead of the SIA," he claimed.

"Essentially, the police are uncomfortable with loyalism having a voice, in the sense of challenging them and putting that forward with a public profile.

"I think they want to damage and smear that public profile and try and keep the media away from me and to damage me and I think that's the objective of all of this."

"They have released information to the press and at the same time tried to gag me from having any opportunity to defend myself."

In response, the PSNI said: "We do not comment on named individuals and no inference should be drawn from this."

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