Thursday, 6 August 2015

30th Anniversary of the Tragedies

By Michael O'Brien

I met Jeremy in Long Lartin prison between 1989 -1996 and it was so obvious that he did not fit in to prison life. He stood out for me, and he seemed lost just like I once was when I first went to prison.  I knew something was not right with his case and believed in his Innocence from the start. It was a gut feeling I had about him and Jeremy was different to the other prisoners. The case was the most important thing to him, and proving his innocence was the main thing on his mind just like it was with me. They say you can spot an innocent man a mile off and they stick out like a sore thumb—Jeremy was certainly in that category.

Wrongful convictions have a habit of leaving the innocent suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder and they may not even know they are suffering from it. I thought I was ok however experts soon found out that I was far from ok. Being in prison for a crime you didn’t commit leaves many scars and it can only be described like a roller coaster ride. One minute you are angry and you feel you can fight whatever obstacles are placed in your way, and the next you are in total despair. Depression seeps into your mind overwhelming you. The only thing I had on my mind 24 hours a day was to fight the injustice and I lived and breathed the case just like Jeremy is doing now.

I do not know whether I would have had the strength that Jeremy has got if I had still been in prison for almost 30 years like he has. However, one thing I do know is that I would have fought as hard as I could to obtain justice in the same way as Jeremy has done, and he has to continue fighting until he has been proved innocent because that is exactly what he is.

When I found out I was going to be released, I had a lot of anxiety not knowing what to expect in the outside world and this was after eleven years. Looking at it from Jeremy’s perspective it would be quite frightening with the way society and the outside world has changed in the 30 years he has been incarcerated. Fear of the unknown and not knowing how he will adjust back into society can also be a daunting thought. I felt this too, and also wondering what reception you are going to get from the general public. These are just some of the things, which will be going through Jeremys mind.

We must not lose sight of the fact due to the injustice that has been laid on Jeremy, he has suffered further by losing his family: Nevill, June, Sheila, Nicolas and Daniel. He has not been able to grieve for the loss of his family, as he should have been able to do.

My thoughts are with Jeremy’s family who lost their lives in tragic circumstances and also with Jeremy who not only lost his family but also his freedom, which has been stolen from him. I believe a miscarriage of Justice does not lay doormat, Jeremy’s case is going to rise up and haunt all those who have taken part in this injustice and the truth will come out.

Michael O’Brien: Author and Motivational Speaker

Michael O’Brien was imprisoned for eleven years for a crime he didn’t commit—the Cardiff Newsagent Murder. In his book he revealed all about the police incompetence and scapegoating, which landed him, an innocent man in prison. It also tells of his tooth and nail fight through the highest courts, not only to get himself free, but to gain the highest compensation pay out of its kind.

While in prison Michael lost not only his freedom but everything he’d ever had, including his wife, his child and even his health. It has taken him years to rebuild his life. But he did gain something from his time inside: a self-taught knowledge of Law, and a burning desire to help others fight for justice.

On his release he joined forces with another victim of miscarried justice, Paddy Joe Hill, a member of the Birmingham Six. They set up MOJO (The Miscarriages of Justice Organization) to help others who were wrongfully imprisoned. Michael recently spoke to James Whale on BBC Radio Essex about Jeremy's innocence. Listen Here.

Michael and his family have set up the Dylan O’Brien foundation in memory of his son who died of an undiagnosed metabolic condition on June 15th 2012. The charity raises awareness and provides support for children with metabolic genetic diseases.

Michael is the author of two books available on the following links:-

Download our e-book of the evidence on our web site.

Monday, 15 June 2015

The Bamber Bake-Off Marking 30 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment

"I have written in previous blogs how mum used to love baking and made some delicious cakes for all the family to enjoy. Mum passed her knowledge on to Sheila and myself as children. We shared many happy times creating our cakes in the kitchen at White House Farm and later in our own homes.

I still enjoy baking now if I get the opportunity, and when I do, it always brings back fond memories of mum and the hours of fun and laughter we shared together.

Mum’s recipes were great and I’d like to share a few of them with you so you too can enjoy not just making them but also eating them. 

The campaign team have launched a Bake-Off because we’d love you to send your baking photos to our dedicated email address and they will go on our Instagram account. Do send them into me too as I’d love to see them. We’ll be picking out our favourites to go on the blog."

Click this link to download my recipes. 

"Happy baking, and I'll be sharing some more of mum's recipes with you later this year."


A5352AC, HM Wakefiled, 5 Love Lane, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF2 9AG. Please do not send stamps but include an SAE if your would like a reply.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Compensation for a Miscarriage of Justice: Not Innocent Enough?

I wanted to write something about an issue that is causing me and many others concern regarding the paying of compensation to those who have suffered a miscarriage of justice. This is one of those subjects that seems to be reported in the media in a way that can be so easily misunderstood, certainly by me.

I couldn’t understand that if someone was freed on appeal, and therefore proven innocent, he or she could be deemed ‘not innocent enough’ to be granted compensation for having suffered a miscarriage of justice. Such a pronouncement by the State seemed quite odd to me.

How could one court hand down a judgement ‘that a person was innocent’ one week, and another court would then make the decision that they were not entitled to compensation the following week. It is drawing the conclusion that the individual who had been cleared was not sufficiently innocent to deserve compensation. The Judges appear to have gone quite mad by giving incomprehensible and seemingly incongruous rulings in such cases. Often the reasons given by the Ministry of Justice are that no one else has been convicted of the crime that the person was wrongly convicted of or that the person cannot prove their innocence sufficiently. Surely being proven ‘not guilty’ means innocent? It does to any reasonable person, as it does to me, but it doesn’t mean that to the Ministry of Justice.

The compensation claims of Victor Nealon and Barry George are two important cases that spring to mind. There are no doubts that both of these men did not and could not have committed the crimes they were wrongly convicted of and both were rightly freed by the Court of Appeal. They were 100% innocent of the offences they had spent years in jail for and they should have been compensated by the State for having suffered so long in jail. The system got it wrong so the system should give them money to help make amends. Nevertheless both Nealon and George have previous convictions and have served terms of imprisonment for offences other than those they were wrongly convicted of.  This, it would appear, makes a difference to them receiving compensation, but should it?

Regardless of their previous convictions, I couldn’t understand how someone ‘could not be innocent enough,’ so I did some research to understand how this principle might be applied informally across all parts of the justice system.  I took a look at the rules of compensation more widely within the Ministry of Justice guidelines. There are clear and concise rules about giving compensation to anyone with previous convictions where they have served a term of imprisonment.

The current position with regard to compensation for a miscarriage of justice, would appear to have its roots in a change of the rules that took place about fifteen years ago regarding how the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (C.I.C.B) paid out compensation. This organisation was set up in 1964 to oversee and regularize payments to all victims of crime where they had suffered personal injury or some loss or hardship. For instance, if a citizen had their arm broken during a robbery they would receive a set amount of money from the C.I.C.B.

This led to The Ministry of Justice being heavily criticized in the media because prisoners were also able to receive pay-outs for injuries inflicted upon them whilst they were serving a term of imprisonment. An example might be where someone could have been attacked and injured by another prisoner, they would have received an automatic pay out from the Criminal Injuries Compensation. The media was outraged that criminals should be given money in the same way that members of the public were given money for their injuries. The knee jerk reaction by the State to this media frenzy was to rule that there would be no more compensation for any injuries suffered by a serving prisoner who had been a victim of a crime whilst serving a term of imprisonment .[1]

“3. An award will not be made to an applicant who on the date of their application has a conviction for an offence which resulted in: (a) a sentence excluded from rehabilitation; (b) a custodial sentence; (c) a sentence of service detention; (d) removal from Her Majesty’s service; (e) a community order; (f) a youth rehabilitation order; or (g) a sentence equivalent to a sentence under sub-paragraphs (a) to (f) imposed under the law of Northern Ireland or a member State of the European Union, or such a sentence properly imposed in a country outside the European Union.”

I know this because in May 2004, a prisoner attacked me attempting to slash my throat in an unprovoked and random attack. I needed twenty-eight stitches to sew up the wound in the back and side of my neck. The C.I.C.B. refused my application for compensation, in effect stating that it was my own fault for being in jail with violent prisoners. As I was serving a term of imprisonment I was barred from receiving compensation for the injury I sustained. The fact that I shouldn’t have been in prison in the first place was ignored by the CICB. The media were happy that prisoners were barred from compensation and the public seemingly satisfied that prisoners deserved to be scalded, slashed, stabbed and harmed because they were in prison, with their attitude being it’s their fault they are in there so it’s right that they  won’t be given any compensation from the C.I.C.B. I believe this to be wrong. A prisoner who suffers a loss because of another’s criminal act should be properly compensated.

Going back to the issue of compensation for miscarriages of justice, I am speculating that the Ministry of Justice has simply and informally harmonized their rules regarding compensation for prisoners and ex-prisoners. So by analogy, the State would appear to have decided that anyone who has served a term of imprisonment should be barred from receiving compensation for a miscarriage of justice. This might explain how it is that the State has evaded paying out compensation to these latest miscarriages of justice cases.  It suggests to me that what the police and prosecuting authorities have done in pursuing someone for a certain crime was justified because they had already been convicted of a crime before. It would appear to be the case that the statutory compensation system for criminal injuries and for miscarriages of justice are now administered using the same rules. If you have served a term of imprisonment then statutory compensation for a miscarriage of justice is not automatic. It is not barred completely but any claim has to be justified.  Analogously then, both Victor Nealon and Barry George were unable to justify compensation for their miscarriage of justice because of their previous convictions.

To be labelled ‘not innocent enough’ when being denied compensation for a miscarriage of justice is, it would seem, the way the courts justify these wrongful imprisonments. Not paying compensation for a miscarriage of justice is a human rights issue but sadly the media appear to demonize people previously convicted of crime who in their eyes deserve little sympathy even when released from wrongful imprisonment.

I know there will always be hard cases that cause concern where someone with a previous conviction is given compensation for an overturned conviction, but in the cases of Barry George and Victor Nealon they should be compensated for the miscarriage of justice they suffered, just as any victims of crime should be compensated for any loss they suffered.  

Just because a person is in prison, or has served a term of imprisonment, it should not mean they are forever marginalised and excluded from any benefits available to the rest of society. A conviction should not automatically demonise that person for life so that, in effect, their punishment is never ending. A miscarriage of justice is wrong, and compensation should always be paid by the State when it caused the wrongful conviction by prosecuting a person when they should not have done.


[1] Ministry of Justice. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 (See link) at Page 41.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Jeremy's Easter Blog 2015

This blog is part of a series called a 'Life of Less Liberty.'

I wanted to write something for Easter, and it seemed fair to make this more about memories of dad, as I recently wrote about mum for Mothers Day.

I thought I'd share something topical knowing that on Friday 20th March we got to see a solar eclipse. Thousands of eyes looked up at the sky. We were able to see many stars and even one or two of our planets in the morning sky.  Dad would have loved it and as you may remember I mentioned before that we enjoyed stargazing together when I was young.

There were no sat-navs to help pilots navigate their way across the skies when dad was flying Mosquitoes in North Africa. From a very early age dad would explain to me about all the important things we could see in the night sky, for instance all the stars and constellations could assist navigation although not quite accurate enough to get you to B&Q.

Dad and I had a routine in the evenings when I lived on the farm. Before going to bed
we’d let the dogs out for their late night wee. Whilst they were doing that, we’d walk over to the cattle shed to check on our beef herd to see that all was well with the cattle. There was no light pollution in our corner of Essex and if it was a cloudless night, the skies were dripping with a billion twinkly stars. To look at this sight was always quite magical and a shared time together for dad and I, but to me, in the early days nothing more than that. Dad showed me all kinds of structures and pictures of constellations which in the end made the night sky so interesting and captivating. I have to admit I never quite understood how it was possible to navigate from ‘A’ to ‘B’ by looking at the pole star, but it was always fun picking out particular stars.

We often wondered if there was life out there or if UFO’s were real and full of alien life. It was a theme we could go back to time and time again. We’d wonder what aliens would be like – what they’d eat – what they’d say and what we’d say to them. Dad was funny, and we’d laugh as he’d adopt a funny voice and ask nonsense questions. It was just our time each day just to ponder, and ensure all was well with our world.

It was a great way for dad to teach his philosophy to me, and I believe his teachings today the same as I ever did. It’s a cornerstone to who we were as a family, ensuring that we were always well grounded within the ebb and flow of the seasons, and it kept our ideas from getting too big. Dad taught me that we were a tiny, tiny part of something huge, that we had almost no influence upon at all. However, he said what we could do was change and influence some of the smaller things around us, especially so if we, together as a local community all pulled together in the same direction.

It’s partly why dad never really liked or trusted central Government and he didn’t believe that this was real democracy at all. He liked the little local Parish Councils, and the village stuff far more, where acts of kindness and generosity really did make a difference. Dad enjoyed doing good deeds, and performing various acts of kindness. He taught me about the importance of appreciating our good fortune, and why it was a good thing to share that with others. He knew we were lucky and that life was to be appreciated in that moment. That was the farmer in him, because nature could change the weather in a heart- beat and ruin our crops but that was out of our control – just had to make the best of it.

Dad really was a lovely man, and I was so lucky to have him as my father. There is no question in my mind that he taught me the skills necessary for me to have coped with thirty years of imprisonment. I’d like to hope that he’d be proud of how I’ve survived this ordeal.

I’m often asked how I’ve kept so positive, in light of all I’ve been through during my wrongful imprisonment, and for the most part it’s because of all the wisdom and knowledge given to me by my mum and dad. They taught me that our cup is always half full, and that no matter what, things could be much worse. We should make the very best of the moment and don’t waste a second of our lives because you can never get those seconds back. We should be positive, because like attracts like, and that nothing good ever happened to a serial moaner and complainer.

 Above all dad taught me that to overcome any trial or tribulation, we should use the strength within each of us to get us through. No man is an island, and dad knew and taught me that there was strength in numbers, but to succeed, that first step had to be from a strong foundation within. Mum and dad took the time to ensure that I was able to cope with whatever life threw at me, and an ability to enjoy the moment no matter what. I’m forever grateful to mum and dad, because they did a really good job in teaching me about how to be in this world, and how to make the best of things.

I’m looking forward to the next chapter now, and I’m sorry I can’t say any more than that, but dad loved that phrase. “Things always come out in the wash”. The wrongfulness of my conviction is currently on that final spin cycle, so we’ll see very soon if that greasy stain of corruption has been removed – and I’ll hear dad’s words on the Appeal Court steps ringing loud in my ears, “I told you so, things always work out for the best in the end.” I’ve always known that to be true, and so no matter what, I’ve always hope, and for that I owe my parents everything.

Happy Easter

Jeremy Bamber

Jeremy Bamber
Innocent Jeremy Bamber