He was supposed to be dropping his eight year old daughter off at school, instead he was spending the morning in a police cell after several armed officers stormed his Belfast home.

Investigative journalist Trevor Birney from Enniskillen was arrested last Friday along with colleague Barry McCaffrey over the alleged theft of confidential documents relating to the 1994 Loughinisland massacre.

The award-winning journalists who produced the documentary No Stone Unturned on the murders of six men by loyalists in a village pub were released on bail later that night.

Now Mr. Birney has spoken for the first time about how the day unfolded telling The Impartial Reporter, where he began his career, about his “ugly” arrest in front of this wife and three children.

The previous evening Mr. Birney’s house was full of family members who had visited from London and were getting together for a special weekend to mark the end of the summer, with plenty of plans to keep the children busy.

“The PSNI, aided by Durham Police, had other plans for us all,” said Mr. Birney.

"When the knock came shortly before 7 am, my wife Sheila thought it was the milkman at the door. Instead, she was met by several cars full of armed police. PSNI detectives told her they had a warrant and were going to search the property.”

He said the ordeal was “horrific and totally needless.”

“None of us should have had to go through that, but especially the children.

"All the kids were still in their bedrooms when armed PSNI officers began swarming into the house,” he explained. “Our eight-year-old daughter, Freya, was getting ready for school."

“I was arrested and led to a car which took me to Musgrave Street PSNI station. I left a very frightened Freya in tears in our kitchen and by 8am, instead of dropping her off to school, I was in a cell.”

He soon realised that his friend and colleague, Mr. McCaffrey was in the cell beside him “having been arrested at his home in the same ugly way."

“This is the PSNI. Don’t be fooled by statements that Durham are leading this investigation,” he said.

“There are investigative journalists doing amazing work in Belfast, Dublin, London and Edinburgh. When is the last time you heard of homes being raided and documents taken from the desks of journalists in those jurisdictions?

“Indeed, I know Durham Constabulary would never threaten to kick in the door of their local paper, the Sunderland Echo. But they did that to us, in Belfast, where they have no accountability. Only today in Northern Ireland could this happen,” he said.

Mr. Birney said the response from journalists and filmmakers around the world has been “overwhelming for both Barry and I.”

“It is humbling and we thank all our friends and colleagues for their kind thoughts and messages of solidarity,” he told this newspaper.