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Northern Ireland news

Jamie Bryson application for return of 'journalistic' material postponed

Jamie Bryson leaves Newtownards Magistrates Court today

A JUDGE has agreed to keep "alive" an application by loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson to have material returned to him seized during an arrest operation.

Lawyers for Mr Bryson are to appear at the High Court tomorrow in a judicial challenge against the PSNI and Security Industry Authority (SIA) into the legality of search warrants issued against him in August.

The SIA assisted by the PSNI, conducted searches at two addresses in Bangor and Donaghadee, as well as an office in Newtownards where they seized items including documents Mr Bryson claims falls under privileged "journalistic material" linked to his website Unionist Voice.

He appeared at Newtownards Magistrates Court yesterday, representing himself, but told the court he had instructed McConnell Kelly solicitors and Barry McDonald QC to fight the judicial review to be heard by Mr Justice McCloskey.

By challenging the legality of the search warrants and seizure of material, he is seeking the return of property taken during an investigation into the illegal supply of door staff.

A lawyer for the SIA told district judge Peter King that there were "two strands to Mr Bryson's arguments", namely challenging the legality of the warrants and seeking the return of material "he says are subject to legal and professional privilege and journalistic privilege".

She submitted the challenge to the warrants should be dealt with by the High Court, while in relation to the materials "it's our submission that Mr Bryson is in fact taking the wrong application, he should in fact make the application to the County Court under the Police And Criminal Evidence act for the return of the items".

Mr Bryson claimed that argument was a "double edged sword" for the SIA because by saying he should go to the County Court, "they are now admitting that they should have gone to the County Court [to get the warrants] in the first instance".

"They're coming here and saying that I should go to the County Court so they are now accepting that this is journalistic material so if they are accepting that, then I would assume that they have to accept that before Mr Justice McCloskey so I don't see any reason why the legality of the warrants could stand," said Mr Bryson.

District Judge King said the judicial review issue should be dealt with first.

He adjourned the case to January 9 but said he wanted to "keep this application alive".

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