Northern Ireland news

Supreme Court refuse PSNI application to appeal High Court ruling

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson.

The Supreme Court has refused a PSNI application to appeal a court ruling in favour of loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson, which found that police should have taken into consideration he had "journalistic material" when obtaining search warrants.

In May last year year the High Court ruled that the North Down loyalist had "on balance" established that PSNI "knew or ought to have known" of his journalistic credentials.

This would have required the PSNI to make a more time consuming application to the County Court for warrants, prior to conducting a search on behalf of the Security Industry Authority (SIA) investigating the supply of unlicensed door staff.

The loyalist launched High Court proceedings last year claiming that the warrants were unlawfully obtained and that journalistic material had been seized and then handed over to the SIA.

Following initial court proceedings the SIA returned confidential 'journalistic material', including classified RUC and Army files relating to the Kingsmill massacre.

Counsel for then Chief Constable George Hamilton had argued that the High Court ruling had widespread implications in terms of the how the PSNI and all police forces across the UK would in future have to apply for search warrants.

It was argued that unless investigators were specifically seeking journalistic material, then there was no need to make an application to a County Court judge.

And while a High Court judge said a quashing order would be "inappropriate" they also ruled Mr Bryson had established on balance that police should have known the materials they were pursuing would, as a realistic possibility, contain journalistic material.

The PSNI said at the time that they would be appealing the decision to the Supreme Court.

However, the United Kingdom Supreme Court this week refused an application by the Chief Constable to appeal the decision.

The PSNI are now bound by the High Court ruling that even if not searching for journalistic material, but there is a risk that it could be inadvertently seized, then they are required to make an application to the County Court for a warrant.

Mr Bryson said: "The High Court decision affirmed my contention that I am to be treated as a journalist, the search executed against my home and two other premises was unlawful and I will now seek damages from the PSNI and Security Industry Authority.

"This whole case has been a waste of tax-payers money, it is appropriate the UKSC has put an end to it".

A spokesman for the PSNI said: "We have received the Supreme Court Order in relation to this matter and will take time to carefully consider its content".

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