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PSNI Chief Constable Byrne in apology to Loughinisland journalists Birney and McCaffrey

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Journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey outside court

Journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey outside court

Journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey outside court

Northern Ireland's police chief has made an unreserved apology to two journalists arrested over material that appeared in a documentary on a Troubles massacre.

Simon Byrne wrote to Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey to apologise after the Court of Appeal quashed a search warrant used to raid their homes and offices in August 2018.

Mr McCaffrey and Mr Birney were arrested over the alleged theft of a police watchdog document that appeared in their film No Stone Unturned about a notorious loyalist massacre in Loughinisland, Co Down in 1994, during the Northern Ireland Troubles.

The investigation into the documentary makers was later dropped.

Mr Byrne sent separate letters to the men on Thursday.

In the letter to Mr Birney, he wrote: "I am writing to you on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to place on record my unreserved apology to you and your family for the distress and upset caused by the execution of search warrants at your home and business premises on 31 August 2018."

In a statement, the chief constable added: "This morning I have written to both Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney offering them an unreserved apology for the distress and upset caused to them and their families following the execution of search warrants at their homes and business premises on 31 August 2018.

"While the searches were planned and conducted at the direction of officers from Durham Constabulary, those officers were acting on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in an external capacity and I fully accept the ruling of the Lord Chief Justice that the search warrants were unlawful. The Police Service of Northern Ireland will be reviewing all findings of the judgment to ensure that all appropriate learning is taken.

"I have notified both Mr McCaffrey and Mr Birney’s legal representatives that I am keen to resolve all the outstanding matters through a process of mediation in order to bring this matter to a conclusion.

"Until these issues are resolved the Police Service of Northern Ireland will be making no further comment."

Belfast Telegraph