Twitter troll accounts 'run by PSNI officers' to be referred to prosecutors | Stop Pesten NU

Twitter troll accounts 'run by PSNI officers' to be referred to prosecutors


The 'DonYeeoo' account tweeted about policing operations and appeared to disclose information before the PSNI
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A FILE is being sent to prosecutors over PSNI officers allegedly operating anonymous troll accounts on Twitter, the Police Ombudsman's office has confirmed.

It follows an investigation launched in 2017 into anonymous Twitter profiles disclosing sensitive policing information and sending abusive and offensive messages.

Some of the messages trolled other internet users and made offensive comments about the LGBT community, children in care, and suicide and drugs deaths.

Posts also allegedly revealed details of live investigations which it was feared could potentially impact criminal trials. The social media accounts are being investigated by the ombudsman for offences including harassment, misconduct in public office and offences under the Data Protection Act.

 

How The Irish News reported on the investigation in 2017

One of the Twitter profiles was claimed to have been leaking information on live investigations, and sending to women intimate pictures of himself which appeared to have been taken while on duty inside police stations.

Another account examined has since been referred back to the PSNI for investigation after it was established the person involved was not a police officer or employee.

This is understood to relate to an account which was run under the Twitter handle '@DonYeeoo'.

It is believed information posted from this account which appeared to relate to policing operations – including crime scene pictures taken from behind a police cordon – may have been supplied by PSNI officers or staff.

The account's tweets included messages saying they would "spit on an SDLP LGBT canvasser" and calling people from west Belfast "lawless savages".

They also described most activists for abortion law reform as "insufferable gross c****" and a children's home as a "frequent producer of scum".

Among those who received online abuse from the '@DonYeeoo' profile was Alliance leader Naomi Long.

The Alliance Party had described the online abuse as "intimidating" and said Mrs Long reported the matter to police.

Human rights solicitor Kevin Winters was also targeted by the account. He had expressed concerns over data protection and a "systemic leaking of confidential information" potentially threatening the administration of justice.

The PSNI probe into the Twitter accounts being allegedly run by officers and staff was first revealed by The Irish News in August 2017. The Police Ombudsman was later asked to investigate.

In a statement, a Police Ombudsman spokesman gave an update on the investigation.

 

Alliance leader Naomi Long was among those who received online abuse from one of the Twitter profiles under investigation. Picture by Mal McCann

 

"We are currently investigating whether material posted on a number of Twitter accounts amounts to offences including harassment, misconduct in public office and offences under the Data Protection Act," he said.

"In some instances, it is alleged that a serving police officer has posted the 'offending' material. In others it is alleged that police officers have supplied personal information which has been posted.

"As required when investigating matters of alleged criminality, we will be submitting a file to the Public Prosecution Service for their consideration.

"In January of this year we referred one aspect of the case to the PSNI, after establishing that the person involved was not a police officer or employee, and could not be investigated by this office."

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "PSNI can confirm a referral was received from the Office of the Police Ombudsman and as enquiries into the matter are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

 

Solicitor Kevin Winters was one of those targeted by the troll accounts under investigation

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