for the personal attention of the Chief Constable
RAID ON ANTHONY MCINTYRE'S HOUSE
We have been consulted by Anthony McIntyre, a journalist,
who tells us that the PSNI raided his home on 4th
July 2003. We have a number of concerns about the
reasons for and the nature of the raid.
We understand that on 2nd July 2003 a number of protesters
entered Dundonald House, the headquarters of the Northern
Ireland Prison Service, during a protest in support
of dissident prisoners at HMP Maghaberry who are campaigning
for segregation within the jail. During this occupation,
RIRA sympathisers stole a document. They passed this
document to a journalist, and told him that they would
use the document to target people mentioned in the
document. On 3rd July UTV made reference to this matter
in a news bulletin. The journalist in question was,
we understand, telephoned on his mobile by the PSNI
and asked to hand in the document at a police station,
which he did. When he did so, he was told he would
be asked to make a statement at a later date, but
so far this has not happened.
Anthony McIntyre was covering the demonstration at
Dundonald House in his capacity as a journalist. In
that capacity, he entered Dundonald House, and introduced
himself to a Prison Service employee called Malcom
Beattie, to whom he showed his press card. Mr Beattie
asked Anthony McIntyre to leave and he did so.
Mr McIntyre tells us that at no time was he in possession
of the document stolen by others.
On 4th July Anthony McIntyre's home was raided by
the PSNI. Neighbours have told him that 33 police
landrovers were involved in the raid. By all accounts
the republican estate on which he lives was saturated.
At the time of the raid he was shown a magistrate's
search warrant, dated 4th July 2003, which authorised
the seizure of "documentation in relation to
the Prison Service, camera, digital camera, photographs,
records held on computer". In fact other items
were also seized, including a diary belonging to his
partner, mobile telephones, and an electronic organiser.
On 17th July 2003, thirteen days after the raid, the
PSNI obtained an Order under the Prevention of Terrorism
Act, ordering Anthony McIntyre to produce to the police
all the items already taken from his home on 4th July,
even though by then the police had had ample time
to examine what had been seized and must have known
that none of the items were connected to terrorism.
As you will be aware, Anthony McIntyre has a conviction
for murder and was released from prison in 1993. Since
then, as we have no doubt your intelligence system
is well aware, he has had no connection with terrorism.
Instead he has carved out a career for himself as
a journalist and commentator. His views and sympathies
are well known and are a matter of public record.
We find it difficult to envisage any other reason
for the difference in the way that the PSNI treated
the two journalists concerned than that Anthony McIntyre's
previous conviction prejudiced the PSNI against him
and was thought by them to justify an unnecessarily
heavy-handed approach. We are concerned that by approaching
this matter in this way, the PSNI has made it difficult
for Anthony McIntyre to pursue his legitimate career
as a journalist, and that, following on as it does
from the oppressive raid on journalists Liam Clarke
and Kathryn Johnston it will have a chilling effect
on investigative journalism in Northern Ireland.
The obtaining of an otiose Order under the PTA, retrospectively,
can only be interpreted as a cynical attempt at window-dressing
that brings the PSNI into disrepute.
the interests of transparency and accountability,
we hope that you will answer the following questions:
Which agency authorised the arrests raid?
Which person authorised them?
you did not authorise the arrests raid yourself,
what input, if any, did you have to the decision
to make the arrests raid and/or the manner in which
it was made?
was it decided to send armed officers to the house?
many police officers were involved in the operation
did the operation cost?
was it decided to depart from the previous practice
of voluntary interviews of journalists by appointment
with their solicitors?
were production orders not used before ordering
was Anthony McIntyre treated so differently from
the other journalist involved?
was so much irrelevant material taken from the journalists'
will those items that have been retained be returned
to the journalist?
all the material seized was in the custody of the
PSNI, was any of it copied, imaged or scanned or
the PSNI release the seized material, or any copies
of the material to any other agency and if so which
you confirm that all copies of data from the computers,
any retained documents and any photocopied documents
will either be returned to the journalists or destroyed
in their presence or that of their representatives
unless used in evidence in court?
past experience suggests that you will decline to
answer these reasons on "operational" grounds,
we are copying this letter to Policing Board and to
the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of
British Irish Rights Watch.
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