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Police not to look at seized items pending legal hearing

Material seized during a probe into the suspected theft of confidential documents from the Police Ombudsman's Office will not be examined pending the outcome of a legal challenge to the validity of the search warrant.

The undertaking was given at the High Court in Belfast yesterday on behalf of the PSNI and the senior investigator from Durham Constabulary.

It followed emergency proceedings brought by the company behind a documentary into the Loughinisland massacre.

Two journalists who produced the film No Stone Unturned, Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey, were arrested as part of the police investigation.

Detectives from Durham Constabulary, supported by officers from the PSNI, searched three properties in Belfast.

Documents and computer equipment seized during the raids were set to be examined by specialist officers.

But lawyers representing the documentary-maker Fine Point Films went to court, seeking to challenge the legality of the search warrant and to have the process halted.

They were set to argue that it did not cover all of the material seized.

But following discussions, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan was told police were prepared to give an undertaking not to study any of the material pending further order of the court.

Sir Declan suggested that an inventory should be compiled of any equipment and documents seized.

Outside court, solicitor Paul Pierce, of KRW Law, representing Fine Point Films, confirmed: "The material seized as part of this search will not be examined until such time as the court can make a fully-informed assessment of the evidence put before the judge when applying for this order."


Belfast Telegraph