press complaint by Loughinisland suspect rejected

Posted By: June 16, 2018

Ronald Hawthorn was filmed by a private detective as part of the documentary No Stone Unturned and named as a suspect in the massacre

John Monaghan. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, June 16, 2018

THE press regulator has rejected a complaint by a man named as a suspect in the Loughinisland massacre.

Ronald Hawthorn claimed that a series of articles in The Irish News and other publications, including The Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Life, The Times and The Impartial Reporter, breached articles 1 and 2 of the Editors’ Code of Practice, relating to privacy and accuracy.

However, in its rulings, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) upheld none of Hawthorn’s complaints.

Hawthorn was named for the first time as a suspected gunman in a documentary about the massacre, No Stone Unturned, which was released in Northern Ireland in November last year.

Six Catholic men were killed in the Heights Bar in the Co Down village in June 1994 after UVF gunmen burst in while they were watching the Republic of Ireland play Italy in the World Cup.

The filmmakers put all the allegations to Hawthorn and other suspects named in the documentary and made them aware of the broadcast but received no response.

Regarding articles in The Irish News, an IPSO ruling stated: “When considering whether the complainant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the documentary’s claims…these claims had been put in the public domain by the documentary, which had been widely


On the complaint of accuracy, IPSO added: “It was not in dispute that the complainant had been arrested and released without charge, and that it had been claimed by the documentary that the complainant remained a suspect in the unsolved murders.

“The newspaper was entitled to report this.

“Also, all the articles had made clear the nature of these claims, and had accurately attributed them to the sources of the allegations.”

Irish News editor Noel Doran said: “This was a significant vindication of the approach of The Irish News towards an issue of major importance, and one to which we have paid detailed attention over many years.”