Video: News Letter’s Loughinisland coverage raised in House of Commons

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The News Letter’s in-depth coverage of the Loughinisland atrocity investigation was raised in Parliament on Thursday during a debate on press freedom.

The debate had been introduced by David Davis MP to highlight the arrest of Belfast-based journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey – in relation to the suspected theft, or unauthorised leaking, of a Police Ombudsman (PONI) file.

DUP MP Jim Shannon in the Commons. Screengrab of Parliament TV

DUP MP Jim Shannon in the Commons. Screengrab of Parliament TV

Mr Davis called on the Home Office to “review the policies of data retention by police” following the arrests.

However, DUP MP Jim Shannon interjected to highlight that many of the allegations levelled at the Loughinisland officers were probed by the News Letter in February, and that almost all of the original ‘collusion’ concerns have been “dismissed as bogus”.

Six men were gunned down by the UVF as they watched a World Cup football match at The Heights bar in the Co Village in June 1994.

A number of people were arrested in the weeks following the attack but no one has ever been charged or convicted in relation to mass murder.

The Forensic Service confirmed to the News Letter that the Triumph Acclaim car believed to have been used by the UVF killers at Loughinisland had been stripped of all possible evidence before being released. Photo: Pacemaker Press Intl

The Forensic Service confirmed to the News Letter that the Triumph Acclaim car believed to have been used by the UVF killers at Loughinisland had been stripped of all possible evidence before being released. Photo: Pacemaker Press Intl

Mr Shannon described the series of News Letter articles as “most illuminating”.

The articles, published over a six-day period, provided details of how a key witness had her evidence dismissed by two separate PONI investigations, how the killers’ car was not the treasure trove of evidence as claimed, and how much damaging misinformation remains in the public domain.

Quoting from the News Letter coverage, Strangford MP Mr Shannon said: “Almost all of the original concerns about the actions of police, which helped spark the fresh Ombudsman’s investigation in 2012 have now been dismissed as bogus or unjustified.”

In response, Mr Davis paid tribute to the bravery of the RUC and the PSNI, saying he appreciated that the vast majority were “absolutely determined to see justice”.

However, Mr Davis added: “On this occasion there is a different view put by the Ombudsman, and I think I have to treat that as the over-riding judgement.”

Sample of the News Letter’s original coverage