Michaella McCollum issues legal proceedings against newspaper

Convicted drug smuggler and family allege ‘harassment and intimidation’

Michaella McCollum during her interview with RTE, which was broadcast on Sunday. She has been released from prison in Peru has insisted she wants to prove to people she is a good person. Photograph: RTE/PA Wire

Michaella McCollum during her interview with RTE, which was broadcast on Sunday. She has been released from prison in Peru has insisted she wants to prove to people she is a good person. Photograph: RTE/PA Wire

 

Convicted drug smuggler Michaella McCollum and her family have issued legal proceedings against an Irish newspaper for alleged “harassment and intimidation”.

McCollum (23) from Dungannon, Co Tyrone was sentenced to six years and eight months in 2013 for attempting to smuggle cocaine valued at €1.8 million from Peru to Spain.

She was granted parole and released from prison in Lima last Thursday. However, the courts in Peru have yet to set out the conditions of her parole.

In a statement released by Belfast solicitor Kevin Winters on Tuesday, the family said McCollum had not been paid for an interview with RTÉ which was broadcast on Sunday. The broadcaster said 550,000 people watched the interview.

The statement said she was now working through the parole process and had decided engaging with other media would “not serve any purpose at this stage”.

However, they acknowledged the “public interest” in the story and thanked the media for the “respectful and professional manner” in which approaches were made to seek interviews.

The statement added that “for the most part” there had been “no issues or difficulties save for one intimidating approach” by members of staff from an Irish daily newspaper as they tried to get into a taxi in Lima on Sunday.

“We are instructed to issue legal proceedings against the newspaper in relation to the incident and a formal letter of claim will issue tomorrow.”

McCollum was arrested, along with Scottish woman Melissa Reid, in August 2013 when the two were caught trying to board a flight from Lima to Madrid with 11kg of cocaine in their bags.

She had been on an extended stay in Ibiza when, by her own account, she became involved with drug traffickers who flew her first to Majorca and then on to Lima to act as a carrier for €2 million worth of cocaine into the European market.