PSNI Intimidation

In general human rights defenders play an important role in upholding the rule of law and there have been significant concerns in the past regarding intimidation and harassment of defence lawyers in Northern Ireland. It is wrong and dangerous to identify lawyers with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their professional duties as legal representatives - Brian Gormally, Committee on the Administration of Justice

A worrying development in recent days, in which the PSNI launched an assault on the ability of the legal profession to operate efficiently as a defence system, is serving to underscore the threat posed to human rights culture that this armed body of British police officers clearly poses.

The solicitor Peter Corrigan from the office of Kevin Winters & Co has been subject to a serious PSNI abuse. Days in advance of the high profile Massereene trial in which the people before the court are being represented by Corrigan, he was ordered by the PSNI to turn up at a police station on pain of arrest either at home or in his place of work, should he fail to do as instructed.  Kevin Winters & Co was also told by the PSNI that even were Peter Corrigan to turn up he would still be arrested.

Kevin Winters, a colleague of Mr Corrigan, in vehemently protesting the police action made it clear that his colleague facing police menace had conducted business with his clients ‘to the letter of the law.’ The pretext for the arrest threat is that the PSNI is unhappy with the upfront and open manner in which the solicitor accompanied the relative of a client, not involved in the Massereene case, to the North’s main prison at Maghaberry. The client’s relative was there to hand over a sum of money in lieu of unpaid tax duties to the British state in order to secure his release. It was straightforward and open, carried out in full view of state authorities. It is what solicitors do. To suggest ‘money laundering’, as the PSNI have done, in such circumstances is preposterous.

The Winters legal firm in a fax sent to the British police chief, Matt Baggott, was in no doubt that what was being masked by the ‘money laundering’ ruse was a PSNI attempt to sabotage the legal defence strategy of those facing trial for the events at Massereene in 2009: ‘We take the view that the decision to arrest Mr Corrigan is clearly linked to his representation of Mr Colin Duffy (and others) in connection with those pending cases.’

In a hard hitting statement the company bluntly stated that:

The decision to arrest Peter Corrigan represents oppression of the worst kind. It is an attack on the integrity of a lawyer defending his client and sends out a sinister message to those who robustly defend the interests of those charged before our criminal justice system. There is absolutely no legal basis for this arrest... we deeply resent any attack on Peter Corrigan's integrity, which is exemplary.

When solicitors are threatened with or subject to arrest for legally representing a client in a transparent fashion then one of the major bastions of human rights protection is under grave threat. The PSNI is determined to be ‘the daddy’ on the legal block and is bullying anyone who challenges its writ. The journalist Suzanne Breen successfully resisted the force’s efforts to coerce her into handing over her notes in relation to the same Massereene investigation. The PSNI wishes to ride roughshod over the very necessary societal procedures that are in place for the purposes of constraining abuses of state power.

The PSNI claimed that it had ‘a legal responsibility to follow all lines of inquiry as part of its investigations into organised criminality’ This is a time honoured evasive nonsense, designed to portray the British political policing operation in Ireland as impartial. It is anything but. The action by the PSNI is entirely consistent with wider British state contempt for the legal profession in the North. The Cameron government’s disgraceful insistence on continuing to obfuscate the issues surrounding the 1989 killing of the solicitor Pat Finucane was nothing short of a calculated insult to the legal profession.

Unless the PSNI is forced back and compelled to lay its hands off the legal profession, Northern Irish society is bound to undergo a serious diminution in its protection of citizens’ rights. No power to the citizens, all power to the police.


  1. "The test of an efficient police force is weather it can catch more criminals than it employs."
    Sir Robert Mark.

  2. The following was posted on Facebook by Sammy Cusick. If this does not amount to intimidation what does?:

    The young wife (36) of a well known Belfast republican died this week in tragic circumstances. At first the rumour mill spread around that she had died by her own hand, that wasnt the case and she has died by accident. The night of her death Monday the PSNI pulled up outside the home of the husband. The PSNI began to beep the horn of their car and when he and his gathered family looked out the window, the PSNI officers in the car began to do hanging actions with there tongues out and laughing at them. The angry family had to restrain him from going out to them.

    This morning while trying to organise funeral arrangements, the PSNI stopped his car on the Falls rd and told him to pull his car into the bus lane, He said that he would be blocking the bus lane if he did so ans was there a better place to pull in, at this stage one officer pulled his flick stick out and began to attempt to smash his window, he jumped out and told the cop that he had had enough of them and to leave him to grieve. He was wrestled to the ground and had his head, slammed by the boot of their car leaving a large gash on his head, his elbows and shins were cut also. At this stage as parents of children getting dropped to school at nearby St Louise's jumped out of their cars and came to his assistance. They screamed at the cops to leave him alone and to un-handcuff him as he was suffering a loss. The cops sent for re-enforcements and a local SF rep came over and spoke to one cop and asked him to calm the situation down, He was told to go away and not interfere in the incident. In fairness to him he then began to pull at one cop with the other concerned parents who were now also pushing and pulling at the cops. One female officer shouted hit them with CS gas....A PSNI car arrived and one officer after speaking to the others, de-arrested him and told him that he was being referred to the PPS for charges.

    This is another example of an un-reformed and un-accountable force that is still abusing our community and know they are free to carry acts like this free from any recourse!