15 February 2006

Anger as police searches target taping case solicitor


15/02/2006 - 17:55:29

Police were attacked tonight for carrying out searches at the home of a solicitor who was secretly taped during meetings with paramilitary suspect clients.

Detectives also raided the Co Derry offices of Manmohan “Johnny” Sandhu, 41, who is accused of terrorist-related offences.

Cheque books, records and computer equipment were all taken during the operation carried out under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The move incensed Mr Sandhu’s lawyer, Joe Rice, who claimed officers should have given notification.

Mr Rice also demanded to know why police did not act before his client was released on bail last week.

He said: “This has been done in a piecemeal way, by way of ambush.

“Mr Sandhu has strictly adhered to his High Court bail conditions, and just when he’s getting his life back on an even keel they start this.

“Whatever investigations are still being conducted, why were they not dealt with during the week he was in custody?”

Sandhu, of Colby Avenue, Derry, faces four charges of perverting the course of justice and one of attempting to incite murder, all between July and November last year.

He was accused of the offences by police who recorded at least 70 of his consultations with clients at Antrim Serious Crime Suite, Northern Ireland’s only terrorist holding centre.

Sandhu was arrested two weeks ago and interviewed 22 times by detectives before the charges were put to him.

The Northern Ireland High Court was told he allegedly tried to have a taxi driver wounded in an Ulster Volunteer Force gun attack “taken out” before he could speak to police.

The lawyer also allegedly contacted a UVF boss in east Belfast and urged him to hide a man suspected of involvement in another murder carried out by that organisation during a violent feud last summer.

Sandhu denies all charges against him.

Today police moved in on his home and business premises in Limavady, Co Derry.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokeswoman said: “Detectives have conducted searches in the Limavady and Foyle areas in connection with serious crime.”

Mr Rice said he was mystified about why they had waited until now.

He added: “We understood there was no police objection to bail, so why do this?

“We would have liked to be given some notice as to this further investigation so we could have been better equipped to assist.”

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