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  1. Media Law
June 7, 2016

Irish News defies police injunction threat to name suspect in Kingsmill massacre

By Dominic Ponsford

Police in Northern Ireland have failed in a bid to stop the Irish News identifying a man linked to a massacre in which ten people were killed.

The family-owned Belfast daily defied warnings from police and named veteran Republican Colm Murphy as a man whose palm print was allegedly found on a van linked to the Kingsmill massacre.

This was the 1976 incident in south Armagh in which the IRA shot dead ten Protestnant workmen.

The Irish News carried an interview with the man in which he denied involvement in the atrocity.

The story came after a the reopened Kingsmill inquest heard on Tuesday that 40 years on, the palm print had been matched using police records.

Between 10pm and 1.20am on Friday night Irish News editor Noel Doran, managing editor Dominic Fitzpatrick and news editor Billy Foley received several calls from the Crown Solicitor’s Office saying the Northern Ireland chief constable wanted an assurance the suspect would not be named.

The Crown Solicitor’s representative said publishing the name would “hinder the investigation”, the Irish News reports.

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No additional detail was provided so the News decided to press on with the story.

Doran said: “We were astounded that the chief constable set out to prevent the publication of an interview involving matters which were plainly in the public interest.

“It was even more astonishing that his representative was unable to provide any legal basis for the intervention.”

Police lawyers went to the High Court in the early hours of Saturday morning seeking an emergency injunction but proceedings were adjourned until yesterday when they withdrew the application, accepting that publication had made it “pointless”.

Doran said afterwards: “The police were unable to provide any compelling reason why we should not have published online on Friday night or in print on Saturday morning.

“We were not even contacted about the matter until after 10pm, and even then it was so vague and lacking in legal reason not to publish.

“We were then given 15 minutes notice of a hearing at the High Court at 12.30am on Saturday morning.

“We returned today and we’ve been completely vindicated by counsel for the PSNI not proceeding with the application for an injunction.”

 

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