PSNI pursues vindicated journalist

A journalist faces a twenty-five thousand pound legal bill despite her successful legal challenge to a Crown force demand that she hand over information pertaining to the ‘Real IRA’.

The PSNI opposed the application for costs by Ms Breen, Northern editor of the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune.

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Irish secretary Seamus Dooley expressed concern about the decision this week.

“It would be a travesty if she had to pay her costs, given that she won her case so comprehensively,” he said.

Ms Breen received the Real IRA’s admission of responsibility for the murders of two British soldiers who were shot dead at Massereene barracks, County Antrim, last March.

The PSNI went to court seeking her mobile telephone, computer records and notes, claiming the material was of importance to their investigations.

However, along with citing a threat to her life for any perceived collaboration with British forces, Ms Breen insisted she must protect her sources. Last June, a court in Belfast ruled her right to life outweighed public interest in the prevention of crime.

At a hearing this week, barrister Tony McGleenan said the PSNI Chief Constable was opposing Ms Breen’s application for costs.

“This matter was brought quite properly in order to attempt to secure access to significant evidence relating to a double murder inquiry and injury to four other persons,” said Mr McGleenan. “The chief constable had no other alternative.”

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