Threatened investigative journalist 'feared for his life'

A Northern Irish journalist has revealed how he was subjected to death threats for investigating illegal dumping.

Anton McCabe spoke out after Philip Johnston, from Killeadeas, County Fermanagh, was jailed for four months for waste offences and fined £10,000.

Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) officers discovered his Irvinestown dump in October 2004.

Fermanagh District Court heard officers found 1,900 tonnes of southern Irish medical, food packaging, plastics and paper waste. He denied the charges and claimed he had bought the waste paper bales for cattle bedding.

NUJ Derry/North-West branch treasurer McCabe says he was threatened by illegal waste dumpers in 2004.

McCabe, who specialises in investigating illegal dumping, said: ‘The four-man gang threatened to blow my head off and cut my throat. I feared for my life.”

The journalist was following up a tip-off when he was rushed by the gang.

‘They were like wild men,’he said. ‘I identified myself as a journalist, but they weren’t interested.

‘One said, ‘Let’s tie the bastard up ’til he tells us who sent him’. They hit me, but not hard enough to leave marks that could lead to assault charges.

‘When they saw from my mobile phone that I knew their neighbours, they backed off.

‘One said: ‘We’ll run you down when you’re walking down that lane, you fucking bastard’. One drew his fingers across his throat. That said what he intended to do with me.

‘Murdered journalist Martin O’Hagan was a friend of mine and his fate rushed to my mind.

‘I reported it. but the police said there wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges. This is a vile trade and journalists owe it to the community to press these bandits.”

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