THE chief constable of the PSNI has “unreserved apologised” to two journalists over a police raid on their homes.

Simon Byrne made the written apology to Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey today after a scathing attack on how the police searches at their homes by the Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan last week.

Sir Declan said: “We see no overriding requirement in the public interest which could have justified an interference with the protection of journalistic sources in this case.”

Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey had been working on a film about the UVF Loughinisland killings in 1994.

They were arrested over the suspected theft of files from the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

Mr Byrne said he accepted the search warrants had been “unlawful”.

In a statement, Simon Byrne said: “This morning I have written to both Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney offering them an unreserved apology for the distress and upset caused to them and their families following the execution of search warrants at their homes and business premises on 31 August 2018.

“While the searches were planned and conducted at the direction of officers from Durham Constabulary, those officers were acting on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in an external capacity and I fully accept the ruling of the Lord Chief Justice that the search warrants were unlawful.

“The Police Service of Northern Ireland will be reviewing all findings of the judgment to ensure that all appropriate learning is taken.

“I have notified both Mr McCaffrey and Mr Birney’s legal representatives that I am keen to resolve all the outstanding matters through a process of mediation in order to bring this matter to a conclusion.

“Until these issues are resolved the Police Service of Northern Ireland will be making no further comment.”

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