Sunday, 27 September 2015

29th September, 30 years of Wrongful Imprisonment

I wanted to write about what it’s been like having now spent thirty complete years in jail. A total of 10958 days (Including 8 added leap year days) give or take a few hours (8) on 29th September, equalling 263 thousand hours of wrongful imprisonment.

Looking at it like that makes it seem such a long time. No doubt it’s at least a third of my life. It feels so painful at times to know that I’ve let my mum and dad down so badly. Dad especially would be disappointed in me for having failed to prove my innocence and therefore cleared their names too within thirty years. “Thirty years Jem, you’ve had thirty years mate to sort this lot out”, his voice is still clear in my mind.

I know people might think it odd that dad and I often called each other ‘Mate’, it was an in joke between us. This began in 1980. Both dad and I enjoyed the movies and from the age of 12 onwards we’d quite often go to the cinema together. Once I’d learnt to drive and had my own car we’d go to the cinema a little less often as I used to like taking a friend instead. Bringing your dad along if you were hoping for a kiss and a cuddle just wasn’t cool, even I knew that. It sounds so corny thinking back that my taking a young lady to the pictures might have led to something more than friendship, but I had no idea how to do this dating malarkey way back then.

Going back to dad and I, on our movie going days we would always catch the new James Bond film when that came out. We both loved Paul Newman and Robert Redford films and Clint Eastwood too. So anything that they were in we’d go to the cinema and see together.

Returning to 1980, the fact that we enjoyed the cinema so much meant that we would always try and watch the film review show on the BBC. It was hosted by Barry Norman and we nearly always agreed with his opinions on the latest film releases. If Barry really raved about a particular movie we’d both go to the cinema and watch it together, or when video films could be rented we’d get the film and watch it at home.

The movie review show was called ‘Film ’78’ or ’79 or whatever the year was the show
was on. So in 1980 it was called ‘Film 80’ and dad’s joke, silly as it seems, had us both in hysterics the first time he said it and giggling every week afterwards. Dad said dead pan as if he was being completely serious: “Jem, what are we doing watching this and why is Barry Norman presenting a programme about a bloke called Phil Matey? Don’t know about you but who is this Phil Matey fellow anyway?” I can recall looking at dad and thinking are you really that much of a fool or are you just making a silly joke, a play on words. I didn’t know as dad was poker faced with that quizzical look in his eyes, and he caught me, to which I answered, “It’s Film 80 dad!” and immediately I got it, Phil Matey, and we laughed so much and for so long that no sooner had the giggles subsided than one of us would say ‘Phil Matey’ and start again.

A day or two later we were at Doe’s, the agricultural suppliers, buying various spares and bits for the farm. The guy serving us turned to his colleague and said: “Do us a favour matey, can you get us such and such oil filters from the rack?” Dad turned to me and said “What do you reckon Jem, is his name Phil?” to which we both ended up in hysterics, made even funnier cos the guy who was serving us just stood and looked at us as if we were off our heads, with dad trying to pull it together, getting it under control and then saying “Where’s Phil with the oil filters?”, trying so hard to keep his face straight, failing and giggling again causing me to giggle. And so the cycle went on that is until we got back to the van. From then on we called each other ‘Matey’ which fairly quickly was shortened to ‘Mate’. Right up to the 6th August 1985 and my going home leaving dad to collect the last trailer of rape seed from the combine at 10:00pm and leave it for me to tip and process in the morning. My last words to dad when I left that evening were, “Thanks Mate, I’ll see you in the morning.” I said a “Good night” to mum and Sheila and off I went.

In a way, looking back now, I can see why dad’s call to me prompted my phone call to the police at 03:36am. The reason why I took his telephone call so seriously. I have always felt that it was because I’d tried to ring him back to find out more information and my getting the engaged signal each time I did so. Not being able to call dad back to speak to him may have been part of it, but subconsciously I’d have known it was serious due to him not using the term “Matey” during our short conversation.

Obviously this is not a point to be taken to the Appeal Court, it would mean nothing to them, but to dad and I our 'in' joke was important to both of us on so many levels. In order for me to clear all of our names, I’ve had to try to understand everything, including my own actions and motivations.

I do feel a bit of a “Larry let-down” for not being able to resolve this case until now. It’s in part due to the fact that corrupt former Essex Police officers who constructed a false case against me are now mostly deceased. There are a few who are still enjoying their retirement, who we appear to have evidence upon, that reveals them to be corrupt former Essex Police Officers in many ways. For instance, the CPS failed to take into account a report, dated 06.09.85 that was written by Detective Chief Superintendent Kenneally which stated:

                        “The evidence indicates that Sheila was responsible”

Clearly, Essex Police have not disclosed to the Defence or the CPS this extensive review and the supporting evidence, which resulted in the finding that Sheila carried out the shootings. The continued concealment of this report suggests that the corruption within Essex Police in the 1980’s remains endemic at the very highest level of their organisation today. If this was not so then the current Chief Constable would have disclosed DSI Kenneally’s report to us, and all the supporting evidence that showed that Sheila was responsible, as well as all the other material listed upon our petition for disclosure. 

There is a huge amount of corruption involved in the case. Just one example of the many hundreds we have, is how witness evidence was manipulated to change the whole meaning of what was told to the Police and the Enquiries. In 1991, my cousin David Boutflour wrote a hand written statement for the C.O.L.P. Enquiry. He stated:

“Thought made some states in August but appear mistaken”[1]

The typed version of the same statement said:

“Thought I may have made further statements but I may be mistaken”[2]

This evidence was manipulated to disguise the fact that David Boutflour made witness testimony before September, which has never been disclosed. There are a number of police documents making reference to many other witness statements, from a multitude of people, which apparently don’t exist.

Anyway “Matey” the truth is certainly now known by the CPS and the Defence and it will be in the Courts and the Public Arena very soon. I hope you and mum’s name will soon be cleared along with mine.

Are the senior Officers within Essex Police honest and true? That depends if they comply with the disclosure requests contained on our latest petition. Only time will tell. Thank you to everyone who has supported the petition for disclosure of all case documents including Human Rights Campaigner, Peter Tatchell. If you haven’t done so already please sign, as it will make all the difference in my continued fight for justice.


[1] 36.306 Handwritten David Boutflour Int notes cont (1) at Pg. 20
[2] 36.306 D Boutflour COLP Interview 19.7.91 Pg. 14

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.

Jeremy Bamber

Jeremy Bamber
Innocent Jeremy Bamber