Belfast Telegraph

Police raid on home of Jamie Bryson was 'draconian', court told

Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson (Liam McBurney/PA)
Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Alan Erwin

A raid on the home of loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson as part of an investigation into the supply of door staff was "draconian", the High Court heard today.

Counsel for Jamie Bryson claimed material was seized during an unlawful invasion of his privacy.

Mr Bryson is challenging the legality of warrants obtained from a lay magistrate to search residential and business premises in Co Down last August.

Judgment was reserved in his bid to secure a judicial review.

PSNI officers obtained and executed the warrants on behalf of the Security Industry Authority for the regulatory body's inquiries into any suspected illegal supply of staff.

Documents, laptops and an iPad were reportedly seized in the raids.

Mr Bryson's lawyers claim police had no power to take journalistic and other legally privileged material during the operation.

A County Court judge, rather than a lay magistrate, must give the go-ahead to seize such documents, they contend.

Ronan Lavery QC said: "The draconian act of entering somebody's home and seizing the material has taken place - it's the lawfulness of that activity which is under challenge."

He contended that it involved a fundamental breach of Mr Bryson's human rights.

"The material has already been sifted through, his privacy has already been invaded," the barrister went on.

Judges were told of alleged serious omissions in the application to the lay magistrate.

It emerged previously that criminal proceedings have been commenced against Mr Bryson.

The SIA is prosecuting the 29-year-old for allegedly stating a company in which he is a director has never traded.

In closing submissions today, Mr Lavery insisted that the case involved only a summary matter.

"A raid of this nature on his home... when he offered the material on a voluntary basis seems completely disproportionate to the observer," he said.

Tony McGleenan QC, for the PSNI and SIA, disputed assertions that confidential documents were taken.

He also argued that Mr Bryson's challenge should be dismissed on a delay point, adding that the same legal issues could be raised as a defence in the criminal proceedings.

Reserving judgment, Mr Justice McCloskey pledged to give a decision following the Easter recess.

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