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“Menacing and cowardly” threats towards Sunday World journalist

Posted on: February 16, 2021 by Ian Murray

A journalist has been targeted with “menacing and cowardly” graffiti after receiving multiple death threats.

The threatening message against Patricia Devlin, which features the crosshair of a gun next to her name, in east Belfast, Holdthefrontpage reported today.

The news comes as a man has been jailed for almost six months after threatening to shoot a regional journalist in England.

Patricia, who won the News Reporter of the Year and the Scoop of the Year titles at the Society of Editors’ 2014 Regional Press Awards, has also received multiple death threats – including two within 12 hours.

HTFP reported last year how she had opened up on numerous threats she had received over the previous 18 months – including one of rape against her baby boy.

The latest action has been condemned by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Seamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, said: “This menacing and cowardly graffiti is the behaviour of thugs who are trying to target and intimidate a specific journalist, but they are also trying to send a warning message to other media workers.

“The NUJ calls on the PSNI as well as Northern Ireland’s political and community leaders to do all they can to support independent, quality journalism. The authorities must now identify and prosecute the perpetrators to the full extent of the law.

“This latest threat is an attempt to stop journalists from reporting on current, turbulent events in Northern Ireland. It is also part of a wider trend of increasing threats since the first lockdown.

“Those behind threats need to feel the full force of the law, this is the most effective way to defend and protect media freedom and public interest journalism in Northern Ireland.

“Social media organisations must also ensure that their platforms are not abused to target journalists. Women journalists, in particular, are regularly targeted on social media and this is an added dimension to the current toxic atmosphere endured by many journalists.”


  • A man has been jailed for almost six months after sending Facebook messages threatening to shoot a regional journalist. Peter Cunliffe, 50, has also been handed a two-year restraining order preventing him from contacting Amy Fenton, reports Press Gazette.

Cunliffe, of Sandylands Promenade in Morecambe, sent the messages threatening to shoot Fenton in June when she was chief reporter at Newsquest daily The Mail in Cumbria.

Cunliffe pleaded guilty to six counts of sending by public communication (Facebook) an offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing message on Tuesday at Barrow-in-Furness Magistrates’ Court. The charges related to Fenton and two other victims.

He was given a total of 22 weeks in custody, ordered to pay three lots of £200 compensation, and issued with a two-year restraining order stopping him from contacting Fenton directly or indirectly and from using her name on social media.