Councillors arrested in PSNI swoop await outcome of Ombudsman probe

Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey.
Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey.

Two Sinn Fein councillors say they hold little hope of a positive outcome from an investigation by the Police Ombudsman into what they believe was their wrongful arrest by the PSNI.

Councillors Tony McCaul and Sean McGlinchey were arrested within days of each other last year by police investigating paramilitary activity in Dungiven.

Sinn Fein Councillor Tony McCaul.

Sinn Fein Councillor Tony McCaul.

Colr. McCaul was arrested on November 27, 2014 at his Foreglen home, while Colr. McGlinchey was arrested the following Tuesday on December 2, also as police conducted a search of his Dungiven home.

Five other men were also arrested as part of the police swoop, two of which, also met with the Ombudsman, Dr. Michael Maguire on Tuesday. Both councillors said they voiced their concerns to Dr. Maguire about the basis of their arrests, the nature of their arrests and the implications of the arrests.

”We are considering a High Court challenge to what we believe was our wrongful arrest, so meeting the Ombudsman is part of the process. He is there to make sure police actions are justified, however, I have little faith in that process because I believe the Ombudsman’s hands are tied, that the powers of that office are limited,” said Colr. McGlinchey.

“I offered myself up for interview but police chose to come to my home and arrest me, and in doing so exposed my home and my family to the media. My wife and family were put out of their home, and family and friends were not allowed to visit yet the media were allowed to stand and film all day.”

Colr. McGlinchey said property removed by police during the search - his Council iPad, his daughter’s laptop, his son’s laptop and his wife’s phone - had not yet been returned to him.

“They didn’t take my mobile phone, yet they took my wife’s phone which we can’t understand. I have asked for those items to be returned through my solicitor, but that still hasn’t happened,” said Colr. McGlinchey, who said the investigation by the Police Ombudsman could take up to six months.

Colr. McCaul said he left the meeting with the Ombudsman on Tuesday less hopeful that when he went into it.

“I expressed my concerns and made my statement but, to be honest, I don’t have a lot of hope of a positive outcome,” said Colr. McCaul. “I have questioned the arrest and the evidence upon which it was based, but I am not allowed to see that evidence which is surprising because I think I should be allowed to see what people are claiming about me.”

Colr. McCaul said he had also asked for his property and his wife’s mobile phone to be returned, but as yet that had not happened.