Northern Ireland news

Criminal proceedings begin against Jamie Bryson in supply of door staff investigation

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson. Picture by Pacemaker

CRIMINAL proceedings have been commenced against loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson as part of an investigation into the supply of door staff, the High Court heard today.

Regulatory body the Security Industry Authority (SIA) is prosecuting the 29-year-old for stating a company, in which he is a director, has never traded.

Mr Bryson, who is set to represent himself in the case, insisted he has not been charged with operating or supplying any unlicensed door staff.

Details of the summons emerged during his challenge to the legality of warrants obtained from a lay magistrate to search residential and business premises in Co Down last August.

The commentator, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested but released without charge at the time.

PSNI officers obtained and executed the warrants on behalf of the SIA for its inquiries into any suspected illegal supply of staff within the private security industry.

Documents, laptops and an iPad were reportedly seized in the raids.

Mr Bryson has issued judicial review proceedings in a bid to have the search warrants declared unlawful. His lawyers claim officers had no power to take journalistic and other legally privileged material during the operation.

A County Court judge, rather than a lay magistrate, must give the go-ahead to seize such documents, they contend.

A previous hearing was told the SIA wrote to Mr Bryson last summer requesting information about JJ Security Services Ltd, a company where he was a named director.

It formed part of an investigation into door staff operating in the north Down area.

In his reply Mr Bryson stressed JJ Security Services Ltd has never traded and does not hold any relevant information.

As the case resumed today queries were raised over a £450 invoice for "SIA licensed event supervisors" at a bonfire festival in Bangor in 2017.

According to the document, from JJ Security Services, five men were supplied for six hours at a rate of £15 per hour each.

Counsel for Mr Bryson, Ronan Lavery QC, told the court JJ Security Services is not the same as the limited company associated with his client.

"They are different entities," he said.

Mr Bryson only provided administrative services for the sole trader who ran JJ Security Services, the court heard.

Tony McGleenan QC, representing the SIA, claimed Mr Bryson had "conflated" the two companies in a reply to queries raised.

The barrister contended that the invoice for services provided at the bonfire event raised a fundamental issue about the application for the warrant.

It was then revealed that a summons has now been issued for Mr Bryson to attend Newtownards Magistrates Court next month.

"Criminal proceedings have been initiated against the applicant," Mr McGleenan said.

Adjourning the judicial review application, Mr Justice McCloskey requested amendments to the grounds of challenge.

Outside court, Mr Bryson confirmed he will be representing himself in the criminal case and seeking to have the summons quashed for a lack of evidence.

He also emphasised: "This is a private prosecution being initiated by the SIA, and not by either the Public Prosecution Service or the PSNI.

"There has been no prosecution brought, private or otherwise, in relation to either operating or supplying door staff."

Mr Bryson said that he provides administrative services to a sole trader linked to the private security industry.

He added: "There's a distinction between this entity and a limited company - that was the core of the dispute in court today." 

 

 

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