LEGAL action has been launched after a former North Belfast republican prisoner was falsely accused by the PSNI of possessing indecent images of children.

The man, who continues to be subject to stringent release conditions, was arrested and questioned in relation to possessing category A, B and C indecent images of children aged between seven and 11 in November 2020. He was later told a mistake had been made and that he would not be prosecuted.

His legal representative James Morgan, of Phoenix Law, said the matter was later the subject of a complaint to the Police Ombudsman, which was upheld.

“He was released on strict bail conditions before being informed the following day that an ‘error’ had occurred with the police laptop,” he said. “A complaint was upheld by the Police Ombudsman regarding this incident and the officer in question was removed from operational duties and given further training.”

The ex-prisoner said that after he was arrested social service were contacted and he was not permitted to return to his home until his young child was removed to another address. The man said his mental health was impacted by the incident and that he contemplated suicide.

“This was undoubtedly an extremely distressing ordeal for our client to go through not only for himself but for his wife and young family,” his solicitor added. “He attended several counselling services in the years following to help him cope with the trauma of this experience.”

Mr Morgan said police have yet to apologise to his client and legal action has been launched.

“To date the police have not issued our client with an apology and legal proceedings are ongoing,” he said.

A spokesman for the PSNI said: “As the matter is subject to ongoing legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate for the Police Service of Northern Ireland to make any comment at this time”.