Friday, 24 August 2001
A Question Of Murder
For the past three days I have been making another return guest appearance at the Edinburgh Festival.
I conduct arranged mini-tours telling people of my experiences and my viewpoints. The enthusiasm of the people is exhilarating. This is a remarkable festival that is over 50 years young, and has earned a justifiable reputation as one of the world's greatest celebration of the arts.
Edinburgh is the beautiful capital city of Scotland, and its people are special, with great feeling and warmth. During the period of the Festival the atmosphere in this cultural haven becomes electric when the arts conquer the city, and completely take over. The understanding and forbearance of the local people are lessons for us all. The invasion of hordes that commandeer public transport, crowd their streets, fill their restaurants and pubs is taken with smiling equanimity.
Street acts; jugglers; comedians; musicians, and many others give live performances. The enthusiasm of the performers is boundless. For them merely to perform is absolute bliss. One aficionado drove hundreds of miles from England to Edinburgh to give one-man monologue performances in his small car, often to an audience of just one person.
The Rules Of Evidence
A question that I was regularly asked by my Scottish, and other friends, in Edinburgh, and am repeatedly being asked elsewhere, is:
Do I believe that Barry George murdered Jill Dando? My stock answer to this question is that this is a particular case when the only reliable person to answer the question is the murderer
However, the reverberating question is should Barry George have been convicted and in my view the answer has to be a most definite NO, in no way!
Of course the jury heard every word of the evidence given in the Old Bailey court at the trial of Barry George. I did not, and have to rely upon the substantial reported evidence that appeared in the media.
However, there is no doubt that all the fundamental important points were reported, and, in my view, and that of many others, the evidence was insufficient, and he should have been acquitted.
English justice depends entirely upon the evidence that is given in court for a jury, or the court, to arrive at a verdict. Hearsay, speculation, and presumed beliefs should have no bearing on the guilt or otherwise of the accused.
So flimsy was the prosecution case that it is very surprising that the Crown Prosecution Service allowed the case to go to court.
There is little doubt that the police, the politicians and the civil servants in the Home Office were desperate to ward off the rising demands of the media to find the killer of journalist Jill Dando, and to appease the public's angry shock that such a beautiful woman that they had come to know through their TV screens, should have been killed without a reason.
Despite this heavy pressure it is no excuse to charge a man on evidence that was very noticeable by its lack of credibility.
Where Was The Motive?
The police in all murder cases are anxious to establish a motive for the killing. When the motive is established it usually narrows down the area of suspects.
In truth amongst this hoarding of over 600 newspapers and magazines there were no saved articles on Jill Dando. The actual stories on Jill Dando was said to number six.
This in no way suggested that Barry George was even mildly obsessed with Jill Dando.
What new evidence did the police discover that George was the murderer, other than the lack of a more credible suspect? None.
Was The Defence Team Complacent?
There are many other irregularities in the behaviour of Barry George if, as it was alleged, he was infatuated with Jill Dando.
A proper investigation of an infatuated person will yield obvious evidence. The fact that no such evidence was found to support the supposition that George is such a person is extremely important.
Unless there is much more evidence than that which has been made public then the theory that the murder of Jill Dando was ordered by a warlord from the Balkans is more suitable for James Bond than real life
My other conclusion is that I believe that his defence team were so certain that the case against their client was so bereft of evidence that they may have been complacent.
Michael Mansfield QC his senior barrister has earned a reputation as a ' beaver' lawyer who does not give up if he believes his client to be innocent. This is noticeable by his dogged determination when he appeared for the parents of Stephen Lawrence in their civil action in the High Court, when he again represented them at the McPherson enquiry, and on appearances in TV programmes and interviews that questioned the Lawrence case.
Therefore, if the Court of Appeal fails to overturn the verdict of the jury that declared that Barry George murdered Jill Dando then we are entitled to expect fireworks from Mr. Mansfield, and the other members of the George defence team.
Investigate The Jury
If I may, I would respectfully suggest that while the Appeal hearing is pending the defence team investigates the background of each member of the jury that decided Barry George was guilty.
There are often accusations that juries are 'nobbled' by accused people, or their friends.
Believe me jury 'nobblers' are not confined to the accused. I know of juries that were 'nobbled' in favour of the prosecution.
The difference when it is alleged that a jury has been 'nobbled' by the defence is that there is a massive investigation by the police.
When the reverse happens and there is an allegation that the prosecution have a 'planted' jury person, or persons, it is treated as a joke. If such an allegation were to be investigated then the investigators would be police officers investigating the police.
The fact that the officers involved in investigating such a charge would probably be dyslexic, and temporary mute would be no surprise.
The Jury 'Plant'?
If there are no jury 'plants' how come that in a high number of trials experienced defence lawyers decide to make so many objections to jury members?
In a related case to the farcical 'Torture Trial' at the Old Bailey my two fellow defendants, nephew James Fraser, John Longman, and I objected to a total of 21 jurors. This was the maximum number of objections we were allowed.
If you had a seat next to where I sat in the Old Bailey when the preposterous 'Torture Trial' took place then you didn't have to be an Einstein or a member of Mensa to know that the prosecution, and Judge Frederick Lawton QC, had taken diabolical liberties, and were prepared to take more.
However, just before the commencement of a related charge to 'The Torture Trial' the then Clerk of the Court, Leslie Boyd handed a note to that insidious character Judge Lawton QC.
Judge Lawton read out the contents of the note: "A note has come into my possession written by a jury member, and it says that his father was a Police Constable for 25 years in Camberwell, (South London) and as he knew all about the 'Fraser Gang' he didn't think it fair for him to sit on the jury."
His Lordship said he proposed to allow the trial to carry on with eleven jurors. Counsel nodded their assent, and so did John Longman and my nephew James. By now I was sick to death of the prosecution chicanery, and I would not consent. A disturbed Judge Lawton asked the reason for my objection, and he was unprepared for my answer.
I asked who else had the policeman's son told about the 'Fraser Gang'?
Three other members of the jury raised their hands and said that they had read the note. The Judge and the prosecution, which were one team, were checkmated. They had nowhere to go, and the trial had to be abandoned.
With the possibility that the new trial might be held under fair terms with almost certainly another Judge, the prosecution and Judge Lawton panicked.
They were fully aware of the mendacious false evidence in the 'Torture Trial' that they had connived to present as true testimony, and the risk, small though it might have been, that a honourable Judge might preside over the new trial filled them with alarm.
The reaction of a honourable Judge to the illicit behaviour that had taken place in the grotesque 'Torture Trial' could not be guaranteed, and his reaction to the vicious shenanigans that had taken place might have resulted in grave consequences for those guilty of the conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
There was no way that they dare chance such a hazard.
They also knew that there was no legitimate evidence in the related charge, and any respectable Judge was certain to throw the case out of court.
An Auction Of Liberty
Therefore with the full connivance of Judge Lawton QC, the prosecution offered a deal.
A better description than 'a deal' was that an auction of three innocent people's liberty on blackmail terms then ensued.
My senior Counsel Charles Lawson came down to the cells and told me that if I pleaded guilty I would get a very lenient sentence, John Longman, my nephew Jimmy and I would each receive a sentence of 18 months each.
Knowing that Charlie Richardson had received 25 years due to lies by professional fraudsters, and as the prosecution in the related case was dependent upon another serial fraudster, it was a great temptation.
However, the fact that the prosecution, fully supported by Judge Lawton QC, had throughout the 'Torture Trial' been resolute in crucifying us to ensure convictions, yet, were now purporting to hold-out a compassionate olive branch spoke a loud and clear message.
They were in a high-risk quandary, and it showed.
A further indication of the reckless utter despair of the team of Judge and the prosecution was obvious when they were willing to give me, with my 'form', the same prison sentence as John Longman and nephew James. By any standards that was extremely unusual, and very unfair.
There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that that they were desperate scalawags.
I decided to resist the tempting offer, and said, no.
It wasn't difficult. Believe me, it is very difficult to say yes, and agree to serve a day in prison when you know you are a victim of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and are innocent of the charge levelled against you.
Charles Lawson then returned to the cells and told me that the sentence would be further reduced to fifteen months.
Again I refused, and Mr. Lawson went away once again to tell the team of Judge Lawton QC and the prosecution of my decision.
He returned once again this time with the offer that the prosecution would reduce the sentence to a mere nine months, and that this was the final offer.
Because of the time he had served on remand it meant James would be released.
This was the second time that James had been in a court-of-law and a victim of perverted justice. The other occasion was when he was a victim of a 'fitting-up' by a crooked policeman who was exposed by 'The People' newspaper.
Jimmy had a dire need to get home to help his mother and father who were accused of another related false charge to the 'Torture Trial'. Eventually they too were acquitted.
Understandably James and John agreed, and I clearly understood their decision.
However, I was adamant and refused. The prosecution, which included Judge Lawton, were in complete turmoil.
Eventually Counsel Lawson came down to the cells and told me that the prosecution would be offering no evidence against me. So much for the Judge Lawton QC threat of a 'final offer'.
The false evidence in the case was deliberately concocted to make me the main defendant. Even the false evidence indicated that John Longman and James played only minor roles.
Therefore, His Honour Frederick Lawton QC was prepared, after the blackmail auction of liberty, to allow two men to be convicted of an alleged crime while the central accused person, that was yours truly, was to be allowed to go unpunished.
The reason for this abuse of justice was because the prosecution dare not risk placing the charge before a Judge and jury that may not have been corrupt.
Judge Frederick Lawton QC was a disgrace to justice, and a complete impostor as a person dedicated to ensuring that the scales of justice are truly balanced.
The 'Fraser Gang' Shopped The Business
The first reaction might be that the policeman's son was a fair-minded person, but please think about it.
The prosecution conspirators against us knew that with the jury being made aware that the 'Fraser Gang' was well known in Camberwell the damage would have been done. Therefore, why risk opening a serious can of worms if a newspaper, or TV channel, at a later date made public that a juryman was told by his policeman father of the 'Fraser Gang'?
If in the future this startling revelation became public knowledge what might also have been discovered about the background to the jury selection in the actual 'Torture Trial'.
The possibility was far too serious a risk for the Judge and the prosecution to contemplate.
The juryman who made the declaration and admitted to be a policeman's son made a bad mistake and 'shopped' the business when he referred to the 'Fraser Gang'?
Now this was a new one. What had happened to the alleged 'Richardson Gang'? Oh, of course, Charlie Richardson was already sentenced, so the 'Richardson Gang' tag was now not needed. They wanted me so badly that birth was given to the 'Fraser Gang'.
I was born in 1923. This means that I was 42 years old when I was arrested in 1965 for offences that led to the preposterous 'Torture Trial'.
For the purpose of this analysis let us imagine I started early, and at 18 was the gang leader. If we subtract 18 from 42 it is 24 years. Of the 24 years I had served something like 20 years in prison.
Therefore, if the juryman was telling the truth it meant that the actual time I was on the outside of a prison, which was four years, I was able to organise a criminal gang, plan crimes, and for 20 years do this from a prison cell?
If the juryman's policeman dad had known about the 'Fraser Gang' for 25 years then I must have been the leader of an adult gang at 17.
Family circumstances may have made me take on responsibilities above my years like helping to augment the low income of my family, but in those days a 17-year-old playing the role of leader of an adult gang was stretching the truth to breaking point? Even a fisherman would have a problem beating that one.
This was the only time I, or anyone else, had ever heard of the 'Fraser Gang' before or since.
How naive would you have to be to believe that in a related charge to the very high profile case as the 'Torture Trial' a son of a policeman who had known for 25 years of a fictional 'Fraser Gang', just happened to be available for jury duty?
Was he a 'plant'? I will leave it to your good sense to answer that question.
The Fascist Judge
Those responsible for the corrupt 'Torture Trial' have the early death of John Longman, a good, loyal man, on their consciences, that is if they had one.
John was not involved in the main 'Torture Trial' but died an early death due to the stress caused by the harassment. He was not the only casualty. His family, and other innocent families, were torn apart, as a result of the injustice that was allowed with relish in the 'Torture Trial' by Judge Frederick Lawton QC.
As the son of the evil prison governor William Lawton, Frederick Lawton gave credibility to the adage. "Like father, like son."
He was brought-up in the atmosphere of prisons ruled by his notorious father.
Frederick joined the pre-war fascist party and stood as a candidate for the Hammersmith North ward.
When it became untenable to be a fascist, and his future career as a lawyer came under threat he outwardly denied fascism, but remained a fascist in both mind and action.
In later years in rare TV interviews he tried to act as a servant of justice when in reality he was a lackey of The Establishment, and there were no bounds to his wickedness to please his Establishment masters.
Jury 'Nobblers' Don't Walk Down One Way Streets
The 'nobblers' of juries don't walk down one-way streets.
The authorities responsible for making available juries are often knowingly or unknowingly manipulated by corrupt Establishment figures that use tried and tested methods that may be subtle.
If an accused person, or persons, is badly wanted by the Establishment for any reason they have a variety of schemes from which to choose to ensure a conviction.
For instance, if for political reasons or any other cause the prosecution are anxious to convict a person for a crime on a City of London bank they will ensure that the jury or members of the jury live in one of the shire areas where City of London stalwarts reside.
Likewise, if they want to desperately convict a person from the City of London on a fraud charge a similar procedure will be applied, but this time the jury, or members of the jury, will be selected from an 'Old Labour' area where left wing prejudice is high against capitalists.
Should they require for any reason a verdict of not guilty then they reverse the situations.
It would be easy to recommend that all juries should be selected from a lottery- style selection process. Let me assure through experience that a method would be found to corrupt even that system. Probably it is already known.
The Beginning Of The End
In my view if his appeal fails then the Barry George matter will become a recurring nightmare for the law and order authorities.
It appears that George has a determined sister, if this woman is made of similar fibre as Iris, the sister of Derek Bentley who was hanged for a murder he did not commit, and whose great courage and persistence won a begrudged pardon for her brother, then the trial of the authorities will have only just begun.
Iris achieved her superb victory when there was no Internet, no European Court, and when it was more difficult for women to be taken seriously.
Today it is different. I am only able to acquaint you with the shameful catalogue of events detailed in this Viewpoint because of the freedom of speech allowed by the technology of the Internet.
Because of the opportunity to communicate with people worldwide through the Internet it means that in the future it will be less easy for a nefarious rapscallion like Judge Frederick Lawton QC to decimate the human rights of people, and the system of justice.
For that we should all be extremely grateful.