Northern Ireland news

Belfast solicitor warned by PSNI of 'imminent' attack

Prominent Belfast solicitor Michael Brentnall
Connla Young

A prominent Belfast solicitor has been told by the PSNI that his home and business are under “imminent” threat of being attacked.

Michael Brentnall was visited by PSNI officers at his family home on Wednesday night.

The latest police warning is the third Mr Brentnall has received in the last eight months.

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In September last year he was told of a possible attack on his car.

In March this year the solicitor was warned that he was under threat of physical attack.

In recent weeks a member of his staff has also been told by police that he is also under threat of physical attack.

His firm, south Belfast based Brentnall Legal, is well known for its human rights work and regularly handles Troubles related cases.

He believes the threats are linked to a highly sensitive case he is working on and previously said he believes police know the identity of the person who made the threats.

When police become aware of a threat to life they are obliged to warn the potential target under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Brentnall is concerned about the latest threat.

"This has been passed to me with scant detail and extremely vague terms,” he said.

“Why have the PSNI given me and my colleague such little detail in respect of these threats, and why has nobody been arrested in respect of these matters when individuals are arrested solely on the basis of intelligence, on a regular basis?” he asked.

SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly said there needs to be transparency.

“I know from personal experience just how unsettling it is because you don't know was it someone slobbering in a bar or from someone actually known to carry out such threats.

“I can understand why the police sometimes are unable to give details but there should be maximum transparency.”

In September last year the solicitor accused the PSNI of trying to intimidate and harass him as it emerged that the Police Ombudsman has previously upheld three complaints made by him.

SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly

He has also issued High Court action against the police as a result of their conduct.

A spokesman for the PSNI said: “We do not discuss the security of individuals and no inference should be drawn from this.

“However, if we receive information that a person’s life may be at risk we will inform them accordingly. We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk."

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