KRW LAW LLP (KRW) represents journalist Patricia Devlin.


In October 2019, our client, an award-winning crime reporter working for the Sunday World newspaper, received a threat by direct message to her personal Facebook account. The sender threatened to rape her newborn son. It was signed with the name of a neo-Nazi terror group, Combat 18, which in the past has had links to Loyalist paramilitaries.


Since then the PSNI has failed to progress its investigation into who posted the threat, to liaise with Police Scotland where the alleged offender is apparently living or to inform Ms Devlin of developments in the investigation.


This failure by the PSNI to discharge its duties toward Ms Devlin and her son is a breach of human rights secured by way of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding right to life, the prohibition against torture and the right to a secure and safe private life.


Today KRW has issued a pre-action protocol letter on behalf of Patricia Devlin to the PSNI putting the Chief Constable on notice that unless assurances are provided legal proceedings by way of judicial review will be applied for.


Ms Devlin seeks assurances that the PSNI will immediately investigate these violent threats and keep her informed of progress and that her family are safe. Should the PSNI be not be able to, or decide not to, provide such assurances then Ms Devlin will apply to issue proceedings in the High Court for a judicial review of the decision of the PSNI.


Kevin Winters, Solicitor and Senior Partner, KRW said:


“The violent threat to our client and her baby son posted by social media must be subject to an immediate effective investigation by the PSNI. No progress appears to have been made since Patricia Devlin reported the threat and the PSNI have been inadequate in its responsibilities toward her and her family in terms of securing their safety and keeping them informed of progress. Judicial Review will be applied for should the assurance requested by our client be not forthcoming.”


Ms Devlin and her family are being supported by Amnesty International.


Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International UK, said:


“It is incredible that Patricia Devlin is having to resort to legal action to ensure a proper investigation by the PSNI into threats against her and her family. Amnesty International stands by her and other journalists in Northern Ireland who face a rising climate of threat and intimidation.”


Seamus Dooley, NUJ Assistant General-Secretary, said:


 “It is regrettable that a journalist should be forced to consider taking legal action to secure police action. The union remains concerned about the apparent lack of action in this case, which has broader implications in Northern Ireland. No one should be allowed to threaten journalists with impunity.”


A response from the PSNI is required by 10 December 2020.