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Double standard? Expose NI police collusion, get arrested. Leak from NSC meeting? ‘Closed matter’

Double standard? Expose NI police collusion, get arrested. Leak from NSC meeting? ‘Closed matter’
Prominent British journalist Peter Oborne has said the case surrounding former UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson’s firing exposes “revolting double standards” in how London deals with security breaches.

Williamson was fired by British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday after being pinpointed as the leaker from a National Security Council meeting about Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and its involvement in the UK’s 5G network. Williamson has adamantly denied he is the leaker, but an investigation found compelling evidence that he was the culprit.

Oborne, who is the former political editor of the Daily Telegraph, was responding to a tweet by UK Times reporter Sean O’Neill which recalled that two Northern Ireland journalists were arrested last year under the UK’s Official Secrets Act after they exposed British police collusion with loyalist gunmen who had opened fire in a Catholic pub in the village of Loughinisland in 1994, killing six people.

Journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey helped produce a film which named the alleged killers, who they claim are known to police, and offered strong evidence of collusion between the two. For their efforts, Birney and McCaffrey were arrested last August and about 100 officers raided their homes.

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Both Amnesty International and the National Union of Journalists said the arrests put freedom of the press in NI at risk. Birney said at the time it was “highly ironic” that the UK foreign office was supposedly concerned about press freedom around the world, while “allowing one of its own British constabularies to arrest journalists” in “out of sight, out of mind” Northern Ireland.

Fast forward a year, however, and Williamson’s alleged decision to leak information directly from a National Security Council meeting is being treated by London s a “closed matter” despite being a breach of the Official Secrets Act – and Williamson himself not being a journalist.

One tweeter wasn’t surprised, however, saying that Downing Street still sees NI as “a colony in a hostile land” and any attempt to question what security services get up to there will be met with a more “dramatic response” than what a cabinet member might get up to in London.

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