Couple demands answers on Northern Ireland police raid

A Sunday Times journalist and his wife, who were detained by police after a raid on their Northern Ireland home, have outlined questions they want answered about their treatment.

Liam Clarke and freelance Kathryn Johnston are awaiting responses to a number of complaints they have made to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, its human rights bureau and to the Northern Ireland Ombudsman.

They have also requested, under the Data Protection Act, that the police hand over copies of all information that is held on them.

Johnston said: “The Ombudsman is taking this complaint very seriously and investigating several areas. This is the first time they have investigated policy and they are looking at prosecuting the police officers involved.

“Chief Constable Hugh Orde said that if it was appropriate to apologise he would do so, but we are still waiting.”

Police action against the couple was taken following the publication of an updated version of their biography of Martin McGuinness.

Police battered down the door of the couple’s home, confiscated 21 bagfuls of contact books, computers and documents and detained them for 23 hours.

Clarke says he was questioned by police about a document recovered from a hard drive at his home which included a memo to the legal manager of News International asking him for legal advice.

“I believe this is a privileged

communication,” he said. “The police should not have seen it and we are consulting our lawyer about it.

It raises a lot of questions for

journalists.”

The couple want to know who authorised their arrest, why they were denied the right to make proper arrangements for their daughter’s care, why they were arrested at 2am when they had offered to attend the police station voluntarily and why armed police used a battering ram to break down the door of The Sunday Times office in Belfast despite being offered the key by Clarke.

They also ask: “Does the chief constable agree that this operation is a politically driven show of strength intended to discourage journalistic investigation and to prevent the truth about security force undercover activity ever being told?”

The couple are still waiting to hear whether they will be charged under the Official Secrets Act.

Mary Stevens

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