Thursday, 4 August 2016

"Justice is never served by the conviction of the innocent" by Michelle Bates on the 31st Anniversary of the tragedies

"It was well after midnight on August 6th 1985 and I couldn’t sleep. Switching on the T.V., I absent-mindedly tuned into a news channel. We were living in Co. Cork, in Southern Ireland, and I was joyfully awaiting the birth of our first child who was already overdue, making me feel restless; that was why I was up and about at such an hour.

Becoming aware of a breaking-news story I began to listen in more closely. A siege was taking place at a farmhouse in England. The broadcaster relayed that five people were inside and there was great fear for their safety. As the story unfolded it became apparent that this was an older couple. A farmer and retired Magistrate, Nevill Bamber and his wife, June; their daughter, Sheila, and her six year old twin sons. Jeremy, their son, was outside with police who were trying to communicate with someone inside the house who had been seen pacing back and forth in front of an upstairs window and carrying a firearm. The reporter said that police were reluctant to get too close to the house for fear of causing that person to become more agitated, thereby, escalating the danger to the family. I watched for an hour or so but there was no resolution and, heavily pregnant, I became exhausted and had to go off to bed.

Awaking early I was anxious for news, hopefully of a rescue, so I put the News on immediately. The siege was over, police had stormed the house and five bodies had been found inside. I was heartbroken, a whole family! My heart went out to the young man who had waited all night long with the police for news of his family; this was not what he wanted to hear.

My own child was born a few days later and I became engrossed in motherhood. It was a real shock to hear, sometime later, that the son, Jeremy Bamber, had been arrested for the killings…how was that possible when he was outside during the siege and everyone knew that? I presumed the police knew something we did not; there must have been strong evidence to convict a man of killing his entire family…I pushed my unease aside and got on with motherhood and my own life.

Since then I have revisited the facts of this case in light of so many high-profile miscarriage of justice cases coming to light, including that of my own brother, Barry George, for the murder of Jill Dando. More recently we’ve heard of the lies and cover-ups in the Hillsborough deaths and The Chilcot report exposing the same type of cover ups in the Iraqi war scandal. In the Bamber case I can find no evidence to convince me of the guilt of this man. Nothing that can account for a man languishing in jail for more than thirty years. How did a jury convict a young man without proof?

Our justice system is predicated on the ‘presumption of innocence’ and also on ‘beyond reasonable doubt,’ but there is so much doubt surrounding this conviction that this case must be looked into again, urgently. The CCRC and the Court of Appeal seem to be reluctant to do this, and the police, for their part, have been withholding evidence from the defendant. It will cost thousands of pounds to, again, take them to court to force them to hand over the papers and forensic results that the court has already told them they must do. They have also effectively ‘locked down’ documents in the case under a PII* order; what is there to hide? Meanwhile, a man is fighting a conviction for multiple murders that there is no proof he committed. Surely this is not the justice system his father, a Magistrate was proud to be a part of?

On this, the thirty-first anniversary of these tragic deaths, I again call for the case against Jeremy to be reviewed.

Justice is never served by the conviction of the innocent."

*During the course of an investigation, the police may come into possession of sensitive material. This material may potentially be reasonably considered capable of undermining the case for the prosecution against the accused and/or of assisting the case for the accused. Nonetheless it may be withheld by the Crown under the “public interest immunity” (“PII”) principles.

Michelle Bates is the sister of Barry George who was wrongly convicted in 2001 of the killing of T.V. presenter, Jill Dando. His conviction was quashed at appeal in 2007 and in 2008 he was retried and found, unanimously, not guilty. Barry has never been awarded compensation for this wrongful conviction on the grounds that he is ‘not innocent enough', having failed to ‘prove his innocence beyond reasonable doubt.’ Michelle is backing a campaign to amend the Criminal Justice act, section 133, which affects many whose convictions have been overturned, or who have been found not guilty at retrial. Currently Michelle is writing a book about her family’s eight year fight for justice for Barry, to raise awareness of the struggles faced by all those who get caught up in miscarriage of justice.

Article in The Justice Gap by Michelle Bates

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Bamber on the "Brexit" Part II

I’ve previously blogged about how leaving the safety of the EU would affect the United Kingdom with regards to potential future conflict and I know that seemed to be laughed off by those who proposed leaving the EU when Cameron made mention of it.  Last century we were warring with Europe like crazy, now I hear people say that could never happen again.  Well, war is what can so easily happen when the talking stops between nations.   However, today I wish to write about the legal impact of leaving the EU.   I’ve had a ringside seat to the legal side of things for over thirty years and I’ve seen how the state has simply messed things up.

Firstly, the public need legal protection from our government not through our own courts but by the European Courts.  The Human Rights Act isn’t some liberal nonsense dreamt up by idiots but it is the outcome of critical thought by the world’s best legal minds.  There has to be a way to prevent a state from going wrong and from my understanding whether we remain in Europe or leave we will still be protected by the European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”) as one of the founding signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights in 1951.  We will, however, no longer be protected by the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU’), which is responsible for ensuring that European law is interpreted and applied in the same way in every member state and is currently the highest court of appeal in the UK on EU matters and whose judgments we are obliged to follow.

The CJEU has the task of supervising the uniform application of EU law throughout the member states and in so doing it can create case law.   It is important not to confuse it with the ECHR, which is completely separate and not an institution of the EU. The majority of cases heard by the CJEU are brought by member states and institutions of the Community, or are referred to it by national courts.  It has only limited power to deal with cases brought by individual citizens, and such cases are rarely heard.

Luckily for the UK, the print media is in competition from the Internet, so public opinion cannot be twisted and moulded by what the Daily Mail says.   It’s all too cosy when an MP like Whittingdale avoids media ridicule, with a coincidence that he allowed the press to self regulate.   Who knows if the two are linked by the legal system, the penal system? Parliament and the press can get quite cosy together if allowed to, but if a person is a victim of that relationship then as a last resort there is the European Court.

A new thing by the state is that prisons are going to be able self-determine certain aspects of what they do, but I believe you have to have one prison system ruled by centralised governance maintaining a rule book of prison service orders and prison service instructions. That way the staff know exactly what’s what and so do all the prisoners.

The staff who look after a country’s law breakers appear to have been overlooked by those who want to leave Europe.  They are for the most part good people who rarely get the recognition they deserve.  The dynamic within prison between officers and prisoners is complex, when it goes wrong like the Strangeways riot, prison officers have to sort that out.   Having both the European Courts in place protects the rights of the imprisoned and protects prison officers from unrest in prison.   Access to legal resolution of problems in prison has stopped many potential riots.   Our government is motivated by revenge justice with little or no sympathy for the imprisoned and it is the impartial Courts in Europe that stop the worst excesses of how Parliament views those imprisoned and those who look after the imprisoned.  

It is concerning that voting to leave Europe on the 23rd June would eventually see the protection offered to us by the European Court of Justice redacted. Cameron states that we must remain within the European Union and I agree that we should. However it is of great concern that Cameron still maintains his intentions to scrap the Human rightsAct and create the “British Bill of Rights” in its place.  Whatever decision is made as a result of the referendum we cannot allow Cameron to go ahead with these ridiculous and dangerous proposals. I have written previously about how important it is for us as a Nation and as individual citizens to have the protection of the Human Rights Act. This Act should be left as it is with the assurances we will remain within the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.


Saturday, 18 June 2016

Bamber on the "Brexit"

I wanted to write something about Brexit and give you my opinion on whether we should vote to stay in or leave. It’s difficult to understand the full picture from inside prison because my only input comes from my experience as a prisoner in recent years and from the T.V. I am 100% certain we must, must, must stay in the European Union (E.U.).

The Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath, took the UK into the predecessor of the E.U, the European Economic Community (EEC) in January 1973 after President de Gaulle of France, on the grounds of a U.K deficit, had blocked UK membership twice previously in 1961 and 1969. The reason the UK joined the EEC was in part to ensure our economy would thrive and not fall into decline. The first referendum on this issue was in 1975 where we were asked to make a decision as to whether our nation would remain a member of the EEC. The outcome of the vote was that we should remain as a member of the EEC.

Our problem as people is we forget so quickly our history lessons. By some coincidence I have been obtaining the service records of my mum and dad and my granddad on my dad’s side. My mum and dad were on active service during the Second World War and my granddad was active during the First World War. The First World War 1914-1918,– was just the most tragic, awful, heart-breaking loss of life man had ever seen. The war to end all wars we were told. Twenty five years later we were at it again – people in Europe including our great nation, our neighbours and our friends were at war again fighting and doing the most dreadful things to each other and over 60 million people died.

So now we are all mates we have the E.U., where we discuss all our Nations problems and iron out disputes around the table, and pretty much it’s happy, and fair and reasonable. In the E.U we never need to fight our neighbours, we simply talk our problems through. Without these types of negotiations like those in the E.U, things don’t work. Recent history tells us, we’ve had the IRA, Bader Meinhoff, Basque separatists and others, and yet it only works out when we stop fighting and start talking.

Cameron was laughed at when he mentioned world war three, that’s because such a big war really does seem very unlikely, but little wars can start if people stop talking to each other. Who could have predicted the Falklands War, the war in Bosnia, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq or South Sudan – they just seem to happen – but we’ve not raised our hand in anger at anyone in the E.U. since it was created – and we never will. The E.U. are our mates, and with the E.U. we make new mates. We don’t lose our identity because of the friends we have, we share and learn and enjoy the things our friends bring to the table. We do not have to be best friends with everyone in the E.U, but the way to go is to have strong representation in the EU parliament – make sure our MEP’s stick up for us, keep to a solid British agenda.
But do not forget how it can go so wrong when we stop talking and start fighting and given half a chance people seem to love fighting each other. The bottom line is we must never go to war with our European neighbours not ever – to guarantee that you have to stay at the top table in the E.U. and ensure we get our fair share of the spoils. Of course we would do great if we came out just as the pro-Brexit people say we would, but how do we sort out disputes that will arise over the coming years?

For me it is so easy to decide – we have insurance being in the E.U. that we will never fight with any E.U. member. Come out of the E.U. and history shows us that given time we would end up fighting – saying we won’t was said just prior to every conflict we have had during the last few hundred years. Stay in the E.U. and we are with our mates, and we do get along for the most part – the best thing is knowing with certainty that we will never go to war again with anyone in the E.U. That’s not the only argument for staying in the E.U. but when you think how bad it was. Is worrying about not being able to buy overly curved bananas because we are in the E.U. a reason to leave?

So on the 23rd June when you have your opportunity to vote in the referendum my advice would be to stay in, stay in, stay in, as it is rock solid insurance we will be at peace with one another.


Jeremy Bamber

Jeremy Bamber
Innocent Jeremy Bamber