Claudy bomb suspect held by FBI

Published Tuesday, 02 November 2010
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A detective heading the Claudy bombing investigation has travelled to America to question a suspect detained by the FBI, it has been disclosed.

The confirmation came as the PSNI failed in an unprecedented legal bid to be allowed to view a television documentary into events surrounding the blasts before it is broadcast.

In one of the worst atrocities committed during the Northern Ireland conflict, nine people were killed in bomb attacks on the Co Derry village in July 1972.

Earlier this year, a Police Ombudsman report found senior RUC officers conspired with the government and the Catholic Church to protect a Catholic priest suspected over the attack.

The alleged collusion was to move Fr James Chesney, who died in 1980, to a parish in the Irish Republic.

Ahead of the BBC's planned Spotlight programme into the Claudy bombing, lawyers for the Chief Constable sought a last-minute High Court injunction.

They wanted a senior detective to be permitted to view the documentary before it was screened to decide whether it could amount to contempt of court, interfere with the administration of justice, or breach confidentiality.

Alternatively, counsel for the PSNI sought to restrain broadcast until access could be gained to the programme.

One concern outlined was that suspects or witnesses in the investigation could be named in the documentary.

Barrister David Dunlop said the police investigation into the bombing remains active, and disclosed that a Chief Superintendent went to the USA last Friday as part of their inquiries.

He told the court: "As recently as last week a suspect was interviewed by a police officer from this jurisdiction travelling to America and doing that in conjunction with the FBI."

Mr Dunlop stressed that rather than seeking to restrain publication, the PSNI merely wanted to gain access to the material.

He argued that if the programme contained anything which could hamper the investigation "the horse would have bolted" after broadcast.

Brett Lockhart QC, for the BBC, insisted his client took its duties and responsibilities as a public broadcaster "extremely seriously".

He submitted: "If the court sought, for the first time ever in this novel application to give coercive relief it would essentially send a chilling effect to anyone involved in investigative journalism."

The judge hearing the case, Mr Justice Treacy, pointed out that the legal bid was being mounted on the basis of pure speculation about the programme's contents.

He said: "Nobody has ever attempted to do this before and no authority has been put before the court anywhere in the UK or indeed elsewhere to support this."

He described it as an unprecedented application which, if it had succeeded, would have significantly extended the boundaries of existing case law.

Dismissing it, Mr Justice Treacy added: "I do not consider that there is sufficient or indeed any material before the court which would justify the court in granting the injunction sought."

© UTV News
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2 Comments
lorna in limavady wrote (1,365 days ago):
That programe last night .are they wise enough ! expecting a terrorist to admit to killing those people. If he is living in the south, why are the detectives going to America to interview him. they should hand the job over to the media who seem to have the nack of tracking people down. The programe set out to make the police look foolish thats what it did. If you want to believe the word of a terrorist over the Special branch who have dealt with these people, who will tell lie after lie when they do now speak or keep silent .thats what the have done all throughout the troubles...Its the fact that a priest was involved they want us to disbelieve but facts speak for themselves
David in down wrote (1,366 days ago):
Just watched the programme and read this article In amazement and make a few points. 1. Will the same Chief Superintendant be interviewing Man A (as referred to in the programme) in the Republic or will the same interest in travel pass by that stage and will a lower ranking officer be sufficient to be sent to conduct that interview?. 2. Alternatively will the PSNI seek Man A's extradition to N.Ireland where Constables are apparently sufficient to conduct interviews of murderers, victims and witnesses. But then I suppose there is not the same buzz doing it in Antrim! 3. Freedom of Information Question...Did the Senior officer enjoy business class travel at the publics expense to and from USA? How much did his/her travel and hotel cost the public purse? 4. For the PSNI barrister to suggest 'the horse could bolt' if the programme was broadcast containing new evidence is a bit rich. Did the police service not close the files on this enquiry many years ago only to re-open it under public pressure? 5. It took an investigative journalist several weeks/months to track down Man A a principle suspect (according to the programme). Do the PSNI not have the same resolve, experience, intelligene or inclination over a 35 year period to do likewise. Good on the judge he should have doubled the costs to the PSNI for thier poor performance......so far
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