A criminal investigation into Belfast-based journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey, who were arrested over confidential material they aired in a documentary, has been dropped, Mr Birney has said.
In a statement, Mr Birney and Mr McCaffrey told the Press Association on Monday evening: “Tonight, our first thoughts are with the Loughinisland families. The attack on us was an attack on them.
“We call on the PSNI and Durham to apologise to them for putting them through this unlawful charade.
“The police have dropped the case for one reason only: Finally, they accept that by arresting us and raiding our homes and offices, they were the ones that acted unlawfully.
“At last, the penny has dropped for the Chief Constable, George Hamilton.
“But this only comes after nine months of a Judicial Review that was instigated and funded by Fine Point Films to protect the rights of a free press.”
The reporters continued: “The Lord Chief Justice told the court last week that we had no case to answer. We were right to protect our sources.
“The PSNI put the cudgel in the hands of Durham Constabulary and let them loose on us and on press freedom itself.
“There was no oversight during an investigation that was clearly motivated by nothing less than pure malice. Rather than going after the killers, Durham detectives turned the chief suspect in the Loughinisland Massacre into a victim.
“George Hamilton and [Deputy Chief Constable] Steven Martin have to be held accountable for the attack on Barry and myself and the local press. We call for an immediate, independent investigation into the role of the PSNI and the Durham detective who led the assault on us.
“We now know they were supported by the local Public Prosecution Service which is shocking. They need to answer questions how they could have supported such an unlawful investigation.
“We thank the NUJ and Amnesty International for their support in particular. We’ve been humbled by those at home and abroad who have stood by us throughout the past nine months.
“But most of all, we thank the Loughinisland families. We are proud to have brought their story to the world.”
Earlier on Monday, prior to news that the investigation had been dropped, the High Court heard that the two journalists can now reclaim all material seized during the police searches as the warrants have been quashed.