Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Friday, 4 December 2009

Police pay costs in Suzanne Breen Real IRA note case

Suzanne Breen received the claim of responsibility for two murders
Suzanne Breen received the admission of responsibility for two murders

A court has told the PSNI to pay 75% of a journalist's costs after she won a case against police attempts to get her to hand over notes on the Real IRA.

Police brought the case against Suzanne Breen after she refused to hand over material on the Real IRA's claim that they murdered two soldiers in March.

In June, the High Court supported Ms Breen's claim that to hand over the notes would endanger her life.

After the case, the PSNI opposed an application from Ms Breen for costs.

Ms Breen, the northern editor of the Sunday Tribune, said she had been left with a legal bill of £25,000.

On Friday, Belfast Recorder Judge Tom Burgess said he had "no difficulty" ruling that at least some part of Ms Breen's costs in defending the application should be met by the PSNI.

He said he had tried to strike a balance between the police's duty to investigate serious crime and the reasons why a particular witness in specific circumstances may not be prepared to co-operate.

Judge Burgess noted that while there was no provision for the payment of costs for such applications, the PSNI would have been aware when they made the application that Ms Breen was arguing that her life would be at risk if she were to hand over the information.

He said he was "satisfied that the PSNI would have assessed this risk being, as they are, in a unique position to consider the general security background".

The police were also ordered to pay Ms Breen's costs for making the application.

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