Jeremy Bamber: Cui bonō?
On 28 October 1986, Jeremy Bamber was tried and found guilty of the murders of his entire family, they being his adoptive parents; June Bamber, an active member of the local church community, father, Nevill Bamber, an agricultural farmer and magistrate, Jeremy's adoptive sister, Sheila Caffell, and her six-year-old twin sons. The jury had struggled to agree a verdict and returned to ask Mr Justice Drake for further guidance. Drake advised that on the evidence of the moderator (gun silencer) alone, they could find Jeremy Bamber guilty. One jury member has since been quoted as saying that they did what the judge told them to do.
Several writers and television producers have sought to elaborate on the events that took place in the small hours of the morning of 7 August 1985; some with more integrity than others. The Bamber family tree and history of the local area are easily researched and are not the purpose of this book which is a personal account of my correspondence in the form of letters, cards and telephone calls with Jeremy Bamber and the discoveries I made as I delved further into his case.
I am not blind to the look on the face of many when I dare to say that I’m writing a book about Jeremy Bamber’s innocence or the silent cry of, ‘not another conspiracy theory!’ Nevertheless Jeremy Bamber has never changed his story, has always protested his innocence. If he had ‘confessed’ to the crime once in prison he would likely have been placed on a rehabilitation scheme, qualified for parole and would no doubt have been out after twenty five years, instead of serving his thirty second behind bars currently at HMP Wakefield.
I recall the images splashed across newspapers for weeks. The Mirror ran with, ‘Mother Shoots Twin Sons and Parents’ with photographs of White House Farm, the imposing estate of the Bambers, situated in several acres of land in Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Essex and just a few miles from my home. I was appalled at the senseless brutality, surely the act of a deranged mind? Those poor little boys, their whole lives ahead of them; shot in the head and heart-breakingly one appeared to still be sucking his thumb when found in his bed.
Sheila, having been previously diagnosed with Schizophrenia and recently discharged from hospital was spending a few days with June and Nevill. Jeremy Bamber lived approximately three miles away from Tolleshunt D’Arcy. in Goldhanger but worked with his father at White House Farm.
With all the evidence pointing to Sheila Caffell, in a psychotic rage, having carried out the murders then turning the gun on herself, within the first few days much of the forensic evidence was destroyed when carpets and other items were taken from the house and burned.
A month or so later the investigation took a different turn after the Bamber’s relatives had taken a sound moderator to Essex Police stating it was found in the gun cupboard at White House Farm. This started a whole new chain of events resulting in Jeremy Bamber being charged with the murders, convicted on a majority ten-to-two verdict and handed down a twenty five year sentence.
I didn’t question the outcome, I presumed Jeremy Bamber was guilty as charged, there must have been sound evidence to convict. I trusted the judicial system, our British police, and to a certain extent, the media. I recall at a later date being bewildered on reading of Jeremy’s appeals, wondering why he would re-submit the same evidence but at that time I didn’t appreciate the complex nature and criteria of the UK appeal system.
My journey into the truth began one evening in August 2011. Attempting to relax after a busy day, pouring a drink and grabbing the remote I started frustratingly channel-hopping for some easy-to-watch TV. With my gaze drawn to a programme entitled ‘Crimes That Shook Britain’ and my thumb hovering, succumbing to curiosity I let it fall onto 'select'.
I remained motionless as the credits rolled down the screen, trying to take in what I had just viewed. I had no sense of disbelief at all at the content only the disbelief that the UK justice system may have incarcerated an innocent man for twenty five years. I hadn’t particularly followed the case though I was aware that there had been two appeals both overruled. So was this programme based on facts? After all you see some rubbish on certain channels but then the company that produced the series, Title Role, is considered reputable. They appear to use credible, investigative journalism such as in their tragic unfolding of events in the life of little Victoria Climbié, which as a Personal Adviser within the Care System I took great interest in. Poor child, tortured and starved to death by her guardians, under the full gaze of Social Services, health professionals and the education system. That atrocity led to a public inquiry and produced major changes nationwide in child protection legislation and multi-agency working.
Sipping on my glass of red I wandered through the kitchen and out into my garden, admiring the success of my green-fingered efforts in such a restricted growing environment. Revelling in the surge of pleasure that the blackbirds had honoured my plot again and that their sheer perseverance in nest-building in the grapevine overhanging the pergola had once again produced a brood.
Sinking into a lounger by the pond, I pondered…why would a prisoner keep providing the same information for appeal, having had it dismissed by the courts previously? The familiar trickle of the water-pump going about its bubbly business felt comforting and reassuring though momentarily replaced by a wave of pity that this simple pleasure and the freedom I take for granted is denied to those locked inside for twenty three hours a day; relieved with just one hour in the exercise yard which as I witnessed during my time tutoring young offenders, in the winter is often after dark.
Jeremy Bamber - innocent? Lots of prisoners sing the same song but this was such a massive story and he is a ‘local lad’ so I wasted little time in searching on-line for contact information for the Jeremy Bamber Campaign team, sent a brief email, can I help and how? I received a reply that same evening, greatly appreciative of my support, adding that speaking or writing to my MP, John Whittingdale, would be the most useful, initial action to take. They were very hopeful of John Whittingdale’s input as he had lived in the same village as Jeremy. In particular, his advice with a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Essex Police. The campaign team founder explained that in order to apply for another appeal it was vital to have access to certain evidence. She said that Jeremy’s not asking to view everything and in any case that’s not permitted under Common Law. He’s asking for specific items to present to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) a body established in 1997 primarily to investigate miscarriages of justice. The CCRC then decide if the case has any merit, whether it fulfils the criteria for passing the ‘real possibility test’, if so the case is referred to the Court of Appeal. I didn’t understand the process of appeal back then; I have since learnt that the appellant has to provide 'fresh' evidence. How a man in prison is expected to find fresh evidence is another story.
After booking a meeting with John Whittingdale at his surgery I wrote to Jeremy. My letters to Jeremy are all handwritten and I regret having not kept copies; though have saved some of my emails sent to him via the ‘email a prisoner service’ and of course all his letters and cards to me.
Jeremy’s reply was dated 27 August 2011, five A4 sides, handwritten in capitals; he clearly wants to be 'heard'. He writes of his childhood, his happy days at Maldon Court School, virtually a stone's throw from my home and of his favourite teachers, Miss Carter and Miss Robinson. Of his French lessons from aged six and the French au pairs that looked after him until he was eight. He reflects on his memories of a - lovely little school, happy days - and recalls how his mother would nervously drive him up the steep Market Hill to school, even in wet and icy weather.
Jeremy Bamber was born on Friday 13 January 1961. Both parents were employed at Buckingham Palace, his father, a married army sergeant, Leslie Marsham, his mother the eighteen year old daughter of the then senior chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Eric Jay, Jeremy Marsham was given up for adoption a few months later although his parents did eventually marry. A year prior to the murders at White House Farm, in 1984, Jeremy’s father had the privilege of pinning the announcement of Prince Harry’s birth on the palace gates.
Jeremy’s adoptive father, Ralph Nevill Bamber, was a local magistrate and agricultural farmer, growing a variety of crops which Jeremy would deliver to local outlets. Pentland Javelin potatoes were grown especially for Copsey, a local fish shop, now also a restaurant. Jeremy writes that delivering potatoes to Copsey is full of happy memories. The owner would give him a portion of chips made from them and Jeremy writes - No other potato, chips like it. He asks if the shop is still there and speculates as to whether one of the sons now runs it. Copsey is still in business and I decide that in with my reply I’ll enclose a photo of it assuring Jeremy that I see us both there celebrating his freedom. Extremely enthusiastic about my appointment with Whittingdale Jeremy asks that I advise him that if he felt he could be proactive he could have all the information the campaign team has. He continues,
‘It’s only by a stroke of pure luck that I can expose the wrong doing in my case – a copy of the City of London Police (COLP) report that had been under Public Interest Immunity (PII) was given to me by mistake - because of this I know as fact who did what, when and why. …the police edited so many statements without permission of those who wrote them. Many people covered this up over the years.’
And further down the same page,
‘…blind eyes being turned for career progression. Ewan Smith, my own appeal solicitor, becoming a CCRC commissioner needs an explanation in the light of what we know - sad to think it but the police sent him a file of PII material by mistake prior to my appeal. As soon as the police realised they told Ewan he must not tell me or my barrister about the contents of this file – he didn’t tell us! I wonder what was in that file?’
Not then knowing much about PII at all I did a bit of research. Public Interest Immunity (PII) is used in cases where the government feel that specific information is required to be kept ‘under wraps’ for a certain number of years, usually thirty. For example, one application of PII covers top secret government agenda as in the case of war or military issues which may be a national risk therefore not appropriate for public viewing. Why would a family murder warrant PII? Jeremy’s final words bring a lump to my throat,
‘I’ll be out on bail soon.’
My job-in-hand was to focus on preparing for my meeting with Whittingdale. I can talk for England but I was new to the jargon, the ‘legalese’ and wanted to feel, and sound, confident. Pulling out my laptop, logging on I searched the campaign website and mentally ingested everything I could realistically hold in mind and felt I could speak on convincingly.
It was the 3 September 2011 when I walked up Maldon High Street to the Moot Hall and where John Whittingdale was holding his surgery. Confident I was not, all still very new to this. Impossible to know the whole case or anywhere near it but what I did know about and planned to focus on, were two Court Orders 2001/2002 served on Essex Police that they disclose specific files and documents relating to Jeremy’s case and which are still being withheld. The campaign team have since outlined these in a Disclosure Booklet.
I arrived in time for my appointment to discover several other people already waiting. A fifty something male clerk, I suppose one could call him, was standing ahead of a queue of people with a sheet of paper. I presumed it was to provide Whittingdale with a list of constituents waiting to see him. When my turn came I was surprised to discover that I was not shown a list of names but handed an A4 sheet of blank paper with a box for my signature at the bottom. I enquired as to the purpose; pointing at a chair the clerk mumbled something about the possibility of Whittingdale doing some work for me. I avoided the seat and as I hadn’t been inside the Moot Hall before I spent my waiting-time taking in my surroundings. Eventually I heard my name and was directed up a flight of stairs to a small room where Whittingdale was sitting at a desk. He indicated to the chair opposite. I sat down. He took the sheet of paper - I took a deep breath.
Strolling home, mentally regurgitating the tone and content of our meeting, my initial feeling was again one of disbelief. Bet it would be a different story if it were one of his own.
Turning left into Market Hill instead of going directly to my house, I make tracks down to where the road bridge crosses the River Blackwater. A member of the Turtle Clan, according to the Ameri-Indian tradition, I am drawn to water, its company providing a sympathetic medium when faced with decisions, watching my troubles float out with the tide or simply navel-gazing. Even when the tide is out, this historic fishing village, which some ignoramuses refer to as Maldon-on-the-mud, remains precious to the likes of me. With the wading birds and wildlife dependant on it, when the setting sun throws a veil of golds and bronzes across the salt marshes, Maldon mud can be beautiful. Stepping down from the shallow wall by the Welcome Sailor public house to the delicious salty air and crunch of empty mollusc shells, I review my main points.
To my concerns that Essex Police continue to hold thousands of undisclosed documents on Jeremy Bamber which could help prove his innocence, and how would I get my hands on them, Whittingdale stated that he could-not-interfere with the law. When I asked to whom would I go when the very system set-up to facilitate and administer justice is itself involved in promoting miscarriages of justice, he assured me that there is no-one else, that he believes in the workings of our justice system. He - ‘believes in the law’ and that Jeremy’s continued protestation of innocence is upsetting his extended foster family. I had taken various documents to leave with him but he wasn’t interested saying that he believed Jeremy Bamber to be guilty and that he’s blaming everyone else instead of taking responsibility for his actions; that he, Whittingdale, had been out to see the relatives and they, ‘don’t think much of him at all.’
Whilst I don’t defend Whittingdale’s response in the face of the evidence before him, I do understand something of his thought processes. It is hard to accept that not just one department in the UK justice system but that many may have colluded in the lie. But why? And if they did, what is it that made this particular group of people do so? Now it might be that Julie Mugford, the relatives and Essex Police were subject to different motivations. Mugford - jealous, having discovered that Jeremy had been two-timing her, also possibly frightened of being implicated in that by telling Essex Police that Jeremy had been planning the killings for some time and had told her, ‘tonight is the night’, she could be charged under Joint Enterprise legislation. My earlier research on Mugford threw up the fact that she and her friend Elizabeth Rimmington, together and independently, had been involved in cheque fraud, smuggling drugs into the UK from Canada and burglary but that no charges were brought. The relatives? Possibly threatened with losing their financial status if Jeremy inherited the property - but Essex Police officers?
Tempted to dismiss my efforts to woo Whittingdale as a waste of time, I realised it was not - it was a revelation, I had learned a valuable lesson. In regard to their constituents’ requests, MP’s are not obliged to help or advise, are not unbiased, so what is Whittingdale’s role as my MP and what’s he being paid for? And – where’s my signed sheet?
Once home upon further research, I discover that Whittingdale did ‘interfere’ when in Parliament he had singled out Jeremy Bamber and argued that he should not have access to the internet (in the UK certain prisoners, for example for legal reasons, may have controlled and fully supervised access to the internet). I also wanted to find out more about Jeremy’s adoptive relatives.
I started with Eaton, Boutflour and Pargeter, as their names had been thrown up by the occasional newspaper article. Rumour has it that neighbours in Pages Lane were appalled when Ann Eaton took her young children to clean blood from walls and furniture in White House Farm within days of the massacre also that it was ‘common knowledge’ that Robert Boutflour referred to Jeremy as ‘cuckoo in the nest’.
ADD BACKGROUND INFO FROM JB SITE
So - ‘they’ don’t think much of him at all’. Apparently at trial the jury had asked whether the relatives had possible motive to lie. They denied it saying they were wealthy in their own right therefore would have no reason to do so. Turns out that wasn’t the case at the time of the murders, the land the relatives farmed was not owned by them but loaned to them by Nevill Bamber until such time as they could afford to buy it.
I decided that instead of haphazardly running to my laptop every five minutes, it would be more productive to make brief notes and set aside specific time for researching the case. Initially I came across a variety of on-line forums, blogs and websites, all with varying degrees of information and bias, some were clearly not interested in facts and appeared to merely want to advance their own agenda. The only reliable source of information is the campaign team website, now a limited company J B Campaign Ltd.
9 Sept 2011 brought Jeremy’s second letter, date stamped and initialled by prison admin. Much shorter, one-and-a-bit A4 pages. Jeremy explains it’s due to being, ‘so busy right now….Had the QC’s case files turn up today – he had ten times more documents than he gave me in 2002 – and one of the team had a quick look and already found the proof of what Essex Police did to corrupt the case, they say it’s amazing…full of juicy pieces of evidence never before seen in the public arena, it’ll take three months to read them but not to worry – I hope to be out on bail by then.’
And other ‘great news…John Whittingdale is no longer my MP’.
In response to an email to Whittingdale, requesting he return my signed sheet, I received a reply, implying that it would not be used. To a second request, referring to the then, on-going MP’s expenses revelations and accompanying outrage; in the post I received a photo-copy of my signature which had been cut from the original document, leaving me to draw my own conclusions.
My plan was to drive to Goldhanger and take a look at the routes which Essex Police officer, DI Wilkinson stated Jeremy would have used in order to carry out the killings and not be seen. Essex Police had a problem though because they had already accounted for every section of the roads and paths that it was possible to take between the two properties, interviewing over five hundred people. No-one had seen Jeremy, his neighbours agreeing that his car had remained outside his house all night.
The prosecution’s case was that after dark Jeremy had left his house in Head Street, Goldhanger and walked the route across farmland to White House Farm, broke into the house through a window. It is then alleged that after carrying out the killings, according to Ann Eaton, Jeremy’s maternal cousin and her father, Robert Boutflour, he used his mother's bicycle to return to his home, negotiating unlit fields and ditches; however police had tested the bicycle and found there to be no blood or forensic evidence linking Jeremy to it. Much food-for-thought but Jeremy’s next letter about a second sound moderator taken from White House Farm but not declared at trial, provided me with a task which I felt took priority.
Sixteen pages! Prison date stamped 21 Sep 2011 and a detailed letter of Jeremy’s findings regarding the sound moderator, which the jury had been told was found in a gun cupboard by relatives, though after the same cupboard had previously been searched by Essex Police and logged as empty. Lots to digest. Got to be half a bottle of red’s worth.
Jeremy writes that he is listening to his favourite radio station, Jazz FM,
‘…maybe it’s my age but I find pop music shallow and not very musical – sweeping statement I know but I just enjoy the saxophone and jazzy impro rifs on the guitar, that computer music has no soul. Oh dear, I’m turning into an old codger, yes indeedy I am. Anyway tis happy, happy re the case…found some truly ace stuff in these 130 lever arch files… and what’s so sad is I’m the last to know – yes Webster what a weasel, ruined my appeal he did’.
Who is Webster? Need to look him up and where did Jeremy get those one hundred and thirty files? And where does he keep them? Decide to delay my taste of the vine until I had pondered a while, find out about this Webster person and more on these files. Perhaps drive to Mill Beach and Osea Caravan Park, walk my Whippets, Millie and Bella, along the sea-wall? Incredibly, having visited, then lived in this area for so many years, I had only just discovered that Osea has any connection to the Bambers or that Caretaker was one of Jeremy’s job descriptions.
Fighting to engage the ageing gears as I back my little red KA off the drive, I curse - more expense - never ending; then, as was becoming a habit, I once more dwell on how it must feel not to have the freedom to choose to do this. Jeremy’s probably forgotten what it’s like to drive; he did say when asked what he missed most about being inside, that he couldn’t remember what life was like on the outside. He was only twenty-four when they threw away the key.
The sea air having renewed my verve I drove back feeling encouraged and enthused. Quickly fed and toileted the dogs then rummaged around for the bottle opener. Had to read Jeremy’s letter a few more times, as if cramming for an exam. It seems clear that certain scientists had perjured themselves, others complied though may have been unaware of the collusion and contamination of evidence but it is also clear that still others actively took part in the deception.
He continues, ‘But the forensics are now in a whole heap of trouble and they (COLP) discovered that Glynis Howard and her assistant, Leslie Tucker, John Hayward and his assistant Andrew Palmer, Brian Elliott and his assistant Louise Float and Malcolm Fletcher all signed a set of falsified documents in order to create a chain of evidence paper trail capable of deceiving the jury, and it did…..I have them bang to rights and…they admitted this to COLP in 1991 but COLP/Essex Police just covered it up behind PII….but I have their lab notes…’
I realise I’m holding my breath, exhaling and reading on, ‘I can prove every word, I have all the PII primary documents and hundreds of secondary documents showing exactly how my relatives/Essex Police/The Forensic Scientists at Huntingdon and COLP all worked together to either directly corrupt the evidence or actively assisted in concealing that Essex Police had switched moderator SBJ1 with DB/1 which had been used to scratch the mantle shelf…between 20 and 25 September…to falsely implicate me as a murderer. Police and COLP used the fact that Anthony Pargeter had perjured himself by saying he took his moderator home to Buckinghamshire the weekend before when in fact he left it at White House Farm…they wanted to (sic) prove there was only one moderator’.
I had to sign to show I had read the firearms guidelines as a member of a rifle range many moons ago; it’s an offence not to keep a firearm in an identified secure place, including ammunition, other than when it’s in use.
Jeremy closes with.‘So if you would be so kind as to spread the news.’
He’s sketched a ‘smiley’.‘They now have to face the music…and what kind of pooh storm is landing their way once this lot hits the fan – oh my, Fabreeze just ain’t going to touch the stink from this little lot.’
Lavatorial but makes me chuckle, briefly. Humour quickly turning to outrage at the obscenity of this injustice. Was a time when anger would have sent me reaching for the packet of cigarettes I used to hide in the dresser away from prying adolescent eyes, in the days when I indulged in what was referred to as ‘social smoking’. How many more know the truth and stay silent – and why? Jeremy says to send my letter with all the references to the Home Secretary and closes with,‘What do you think Poppy?’
What do I think? I can’t do all this! That’s what I think. Where on Earth do I start? A brilliant piece of research, professionally evidenced but what parts to use and who will read it? I don’t want to ramble; lose my ‘audience’ but at the same time it’s vital I include pertinent, provable points. Even in the midst of the revelation of this corruption, I still pause to make a note of my alliteration, clever - can use that again, immediately followed with a mental slap-on-the-wrist though I can imagine Jeremy quipping, ‘You’ll get a star for that.’
After several drafts I settle on the final format and content though feel that I could make a better fist-of-it now that I am more familiar with the case and legal procedures. Popped to the Post Office, sent it Recorded Delivery to Home Secretary, Theresa May, Cc’d to COLP, CCRC, Keir Starmer QC, John Whittingdale MP, Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Fingers crossed.
On my return Bella’s at the back door, wants the loo. Have to tug it open these days, wood’s swollen around the architrave, a seasonal occurrence due to heavy rains and over one hundred and fifteen years of wear. Bella slips through my legs making a beeline for the herb-garden constructed from the stock-bricks and beams that once made up the coal-shed. I like the fact that others trod these floors before me, that this was home to a family in the days of horse-drawn carriages. Last week a couple, married I presume, having been to a service in the Baptist Chapel opposite, stopped to chat as I was putting the animals in the car. He said he was aged ninety-one and born in my house. Another guy, walks past each morning, has done for months, I presume he eats breakfast out somewhere; stopped when I was painting the front door, to tell me that his son died in my bedroom, aged forty-six, heart attack; he was a police officer. Of course I didn’t, wouldn’t, share my current view of the men-in-blue. Why would police officers frame a young man? I’ve counselled coppers, had a contract with Essex Police, heard some stories, expenses fiddling, faked sickness and back problems to get time off work when it was in fact depression and civilians and police officers of all ranks felt they had to hide the fact. The newlywed and newly qualified police constable who had a nervous breakdown after attending a road accident and had discovered a dead mother and baby in the car and was ordered by his senior after a home visit, to get his uniform on and back-to-work! Nasty - unnecessary. I printed off the ‘thank you’ e-card that rooky sent me - bless. Stress, so incapacitating. In Scott Lomax’ book, ‘Evil, Almost Beyond Belief?’ he writes that the Jeremy’s level of stress at the loss of his family had been exacerbated by DS Jones’ questioning and ‘vile comments’ in describing how the murders had been carried out, causing Jeremy to call him, ‘A hard bastard.’ This was used against Jeremy in prosecution statements and since by others including authors.
Bending down to root out the weeds forcing their way between the crazy paving - again, I recall a supervisor saying that a counsellor would also make a good gardener, detective or even a public lavatory assistant as they like to get to the bottom of things!
A couple of phone calls and some research proved very productive on the one hundred and thirty files but first, Webster. Much of the prosecution’s case was built around the sound moderator they insisted was on the gun when Jeremy allegedly shot the family and that the blood on it was Sheila’s. Turns out that at the 2002 appeal, even the prosecution’s forensic experts conceded that the Crown could no longer rely on Sheila’s blood ever having been inside the sound moderator. However, Mark Webster, a forensic scientist called to give evidence for the defence, totally undermined that view stating that although Sheila’s blood was no longer inside the moderator it could have been wiped off through forensic testing! To use the vernacular, you couldn’t make it up - but did someone?
And the lever arch files. Since 2001 there have been Court Orders in place requiring Essex Police provide Jeremy's legal team with certain evidence relating to his trial and conviction but which was not presented at court. Essex Police have continued to refuse to comply with the Court Orders and they have never been enforced. In 2011 Jeremy Bamber’s campaign team founder had been contacted and asked if she would like the boxes of files relating to the case, they had been stored for over ten years in an office somewhere. On receipt of these boxes, over eighty in all, it was discovered that they contained files filled with literally thousands of pieces of undisclosed evidence. Of extreme significance is that they have HOLMES references which is the Home Office database. These Pandora’s boxes also revealed that despite a previous court order to the contrary, in 1996 Special Branch had authorised the destruction of evidence found at the scene; including Sheila Caffell's clothing. Of the eight spirits Pandora released into the world, seven were evil but the eighth was Hope - and in the face of uncertainty, I’ll drink to that.
Friday 28 October 2011 brings further positive news. Jeremy writes that everything is,
‘happy happy with the case, and we are finding lots of new stuff’. He says he would love to tell me everything but he must not, which is hard for him as, ‘I cannot keep my own secrets’, though he does allow me in on some of his findings.
Essex Police had asserted that they had photographic evidence supporting their claim that Jeremy had accessed the house on the night of the murders via the shower room window, using a hacksaw blade. When requested by the CCRC, COLP and the courts, to reveal in what order these photographs were taken, Jeremy says that Essex Police were at a loss as to how to do that, even though recording photographs with times, dates and names of photographers was deemed standard practice. Jeremy writes,
‘until finally I get disclosed to me 402 case negatives and 50 hours work and I can place every photo in the order of its taking and I will swear to it that I’m right as I can name each photographer and produce his statement about what he took… and I discovered the reason why they (Essex Police) didn’t want to do this – it shows they perjured themselves…they said they photographed the window and discovered the hacksaw blade… but as the photos show, this was not the case…. the prosecution could not even begin as there was already evidence from DCI Jones that all windows and doors were locked and on their catches at 9:15am, when he checked each one carefully.’
He closes promising me that we’ll soon have our fish and chips at Copseys and his new solicitor, ‘Simon McKay, is doing a very good job indeed…I believe that now he is in charge we will succeed.’
Following the rise and fall of the swell my eyes absorb the view of the translucent hues of the River Blackwater gleaming in the sunshine. Having driven to Goldhanger, up Head Street, pass the house where Jeremy had lived, then slight left to park outside St Peter’s church. Reaching over to the back seat, grabbing the plastic document wallet in which I’ve begun storing Jeremy’s letters, I make my way down Fish Street, left across the fields to the sea wall. Let the dogs off and perch down on the bank running alongside the muddy groove which has been trodden into a narrow path by the many visitors wending their way towards the Tolleshunts and beyond. Pop it open, lift out an email from a Jeremy supporter referencing the then newly elected, Witham MP, Priti Patel’s address to Parliament in 2010 along the lines of how ‘immensely distressed’ the Bamber family are because the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) permitted ‘The Times’ newspaper to interview Jeremy. I didn’t know that. Huh, try being innocent and spending all these years in prison, see how distressed they’d be then! Patel is thought to be close colleagues with Whittingdale, her Witham constituency being adjacent to Maldon and both a stone’s throw from Goldhanger. Feel a letter coming on. Alerted by the crackle of the monkey-nut packet in my pocket Millie and Bella stand and stretch from head to toe – paw, as only whippets can. Come on girls, got work to do.
17 November 2011 brings a one pager from JB. Making reference to my previous letter he recalls, ‘there’s some lovely places around the Blackwater estuary’, that he’s pleased that some of the old sea-wall has been removed and the flood marshes allowed to return, even though, ‘forty five years ago my grandfather was pleased they had reclaimed that land as in those days growing our own food in this country was still important. My granddad was so proud of his 100 plus acres of new farmland.’
It feels important, respectful, to quote Jeremy verbatim at times, to keep his voice - alive?
‘been so busy of late and the case is going really well…we’re finding lots of new documents to verify the grounds of appeal we’re using in December. I’m exhausted, most nights I’m still working until 02.30, but it’s exciting really and so sleep has to take second place…I’ve got to rush off now Poppy but it’s always lovely to hear from you and thank you for your support.’
Jeremy’s busy-ness meant that his contacts have mostly been short notes other than the letter he enclosed in his Christmas card and this time, it wasn’t just a lump in my throat I had to swallow down, I absolutely sobbed. Writing about his last appeal in 2002 and how he’d felt so positive and hopeful. It included DNA testing, not available in 1985 and challenging the forensic identity of blood in the moderator as having been inconclusive in that it could be animal also that vital evidence had not been disclosed or had been fabricated. ‘I was to be given the outcome of that appeal just before Christmas and I was telling everyone inside that I’d be out before Christmas Day. I was so sure I didn’t put my menu slip in and had to have jam on toast. I felt desolate, abandoned and such a fool, I was a laughing stock.’
Along with my card to him I sent a parcel of stationery items and for his birthday which is two days before mine in January, I enclosed a cheque. Hope he gets it…
Included in the note Jeremy enclosed in his birthday card to me is a suggestion that I ask the ‘team’ to send me a copy of the 2002 appeal outcome which I did and am now trying to compute it. Far too long and complex to get my head around it totally but the significant factor is - that what the Court was not told - is that the AK-1 enzyme found in human blood is genetically identical to the AK-1 enzyme found in the blood of pigs, cattle, rabbits, chickens and carp.
The letter is dated 27 March 2012. Very brief, Jeremy is looking forward to a programme to be aired on ITV, a few days hence. It will contain peer-reviewed reports from experienced and highly respected ballistics experts, from both the UK and the United States. The aim of the programme I anticipate, is to show that the wounds on Nevill Bamber were created with the muzzle of the rifle and not the moderator, thus placing into doubt the judges conclusion when he led the jury to find Jeremy guilty on the evidence of the moderator alone.
29 March 2012, ITV 1 ‘Tonight’ with Mark Williams-Thomas a former police detective…and despite that fact I was keen to view. I felt optimistic that the repercussions of the airing of new evidence on a reputable TV programme would revive public interest in this travesty. Optimism was short-lived. Even though ballistics experts from America had provided very convincing evidence that the bullet wounds on Sheila did not show evidence of the moderator being on the gun and the burn marks on Nevill back, could not have been made with the end of a silencer. UK firearms expert, Philip Boyce confirms the findings but by the end of the programme this had been lost. I felt angry; as usual the last word was given to the relatives who continue to hold Jeremy responsible.
It was a great disappointment that so much evidence supporting Jeremy’s alibi was omitted from what could have been such a positive step for him and his case. I was also irritated, to put it mildly that Jeremy’s solicitor, McKay, had taken part in the documentary without asking for a preview of the finished product which due to previous experience I suggested he do. His response was that he and the documentary maker ‘go back a long way’ and that, it will be balanced view. This was not a ‘balanced’ view, anyway, what can you site as a ‘balance’ to the truth? How do ‘they’ persuade people to lie, knowing the consequences? ‘Cross my palm with silver’, an old friend would say
And as for Barbara Wilson! She who had a good relationship with Jeremy and had provided such a positive statement to police in 1985, had now turned traitor. Why? Then to add insult to injury, despite all this expert evidence they wheel in yet another copper, Nick Gradwell, to ‘review’ the case. Oh and surprise, surprise, he agrees with the verdict. I vented on Twitter.
Caught the end of a regional news programme on 29 March. MWT interview. Torn as to whether I wanted to hear what he had to say I gave it intermittent attention though did catch his final words, ‘…given the evidence… Bamber would not be found guilty today’.
The papers in my plastic wallet having have quadrupled in number are now promoted to a lever arch file. Fortunately a side-effect of my tendency towards OCD (I re-wash knives and forks after they’ve been in the dishwasher) is witnessed in my meticulous filing system so I have no trouble in locating them speedily. Headed in bold and underlined:
Statements from Home Office Database HOLMES 2 & Police Refs.
Aah, here we are. Wilson’s interview. Mouthing the text slowly…
(HOLMES 47/11 A58) Barbara Wilson interviewed pre-trial by Chief Inspector Dickinson.
Q: How did you find Jeremy?
A: Very pleasant, no qualms, always okay with me. Probably got on better with him than my own son. A likeable jovial fellow.
Q: Ever say anything nasty about parents, Sheila or the twins?
A: No, never heard anything bad at all.
NB:Barbara Wilson died within weeks of another negative contribution from her to a television programme about Jeremy Bamber, ‘Slaughter at the Farm’, on Channel 5 in 2014, so cannot be challenged further as to her motives for concealing the truth.
Three letters between the third and thirteenth of April. My favourite month and the one I chose for my change of name Deed Poll, the fourth-of-the-fourth. Having survived an inconsistent March with weather that can vary from heavy snow to balmy sunshine, culminating in the Equinox and clocks springing forward, April feels a little more ‘stable’. Spring bulbs are ‘going over’ mostly but my Wisteria has slid her tendrils further along the wall, sensing where to grip and wind, her blossoms still shy and squinting but my faithful Lilac tree fills my little garden with scent every April, regardless of the weather and with it come the Blue-tits, Sparrows, Jays and Collar doves, to name but a few. Having given all the pots a top-dressing I’ve grabbed my coffee and pulled a garden chair from the shed, sitting I re-read all three.
On my view of the TV programme Jeremy says that he understands how ‘miffed’ I was, that he could see my point of view but his CCRC application being his prime focus, he writes, ‘this is a just a quicky to say I’m OK - just waiting for the CCRC decision. The (‘Tonight’) programme showed the ballistics was great and it revealed…how easy a .22 is to use, how the noise of firing is so quiet… with or without the moderator…as well as the obvious experiments (pig skin). But why the need to mislead people by saying stuff that’s not true and not asking that question to DI Cook?’
What question’s that then?
‘However, you’ll be seeing the fruits of my labours. The case will be decided in a week or two, my friend, Tom, kindly typed it up for me. The bottom line though is that the forensics is what’s going to allow me to walk free…evidence that the DPP/CPS knew that my conviction was unlawful from day one but chose to turn a blind-eye…The referral ought to be next week unless they - delay but I can’t see it…and we will eat Copsey’s fish and chips very soon.’
He has a ‘captive audience’.
‘I argue each point in public and my fellow prisoner is cynical to the point of ‘whatever’, at my ‘I’m innocent’ conversation.’
Sliding my hands from the keyboard to my desk and levering my backside from the chair I catch the window’s manifestation of my face grinning back at me. How does he maintain his humour, his motivation? In 2012 it was twenty seven years inside and he was sure he’d be out ‘on bail in days’; repeated dozens of times over subsequent hundreds of them.
The letter dropping through the box on 2 May brought a change of tone, virtually an admonishment. Jeremy was now telling me that before I put anything on social media, that I ‘run it past his team…take ten minutes to consider…knee jerk reactions…singing from the same hymn-sheet…could damage my appeal.’
Why? So pompous, how dare he? I wrote back, a direct letter - not nasty, copied to his team. Making it clear that I am not an official member of the campaign team, am ‘accountable to no-body’, and as such, providing it’s not an offence, ‘I will write or speak as I see fit’ and, I, ‘breathe my own air’ and ‘if only I had the influence to affect his appeal.’ His reply was apologetic,
‘Sorry, Poppy, I let people get into my head.’
Reading on I understood; I suspect he was reacting from the news that the CCRC had rejected his application.
So the peer reviewed findings of four pre-eminent scientists and ballistics experts, which have the clear propensity of finding the original guilty verdict as unsafe, have been cited by the CCRC as speculative. The CCRC seem oblivious as to the appropriate application of the ‘Golden Rule’, ‘that any material that weakened the prosecution case or strengthened that of the defence should be disclosed and that rule should be read fairly widely’ (Rahman Ravelli, Disclosure in Public Interest Immunity in Serious Cases p,5)
In his reply to my brief email, expressing my disgust at the CCRC judgement and asking for
clarification of his earlier reference to DI Cook and the ‘Tonight’ documentary, and whether he’d object to my using our correspondence on my blog site, he writes, ‘of course you can use anything, just contact the team or ask me, I’m up for questions as many as you like but…sorry Poppy I can’t remember much about the trial, well not word-for-word or what Drake closed with, I was in a state of shock…office will have the transcript CCRC stuff and the appeal, help yourself.’
Going back over the CCRC refusal to forward for appeal he writes,…’I can’t tell people what I know but I can say this…Simon McKay has begun a Judicial review process against the CCRC… we are asking them to reconsider their position, if they refuse then we’ll get a High Court judge to order the CCRC to make a referral…’
How he keeps so positive I just do not know. After every knock-back he drags himself up, a self-imposed eight count, few grunts, adjust gum-shield, bit of a shuffle, throw a couple of punches into an invisible opponent, ding-ding, ‘Seconds out!’ It’s obvious there is something very wrong with this case. Wonder if he can ever cut-off?
I don’t write for a few weeks, give him a break, well, from me anyway though I do send him a photograph of our ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ dress rehearsal. As a tarty Titania I hadn’t as yet been provided with my complete costume so along with my flamboyant ginger wig, flame coloured cape, the leg I was ‘getting over’ Bottom, was clad in jeans and a black leather boot.
His reply thanks me for the ‘pic, all lovely stuff’ but that he’s not a fan of Shakespeare, ‘very uncultured - country bumpkin at heart me!! I’m pondering as to whether he’s read any when he shocks me with the information that CCRC have not only refused to ‘think again’, they’ve closed his case. What with the CCRC framework and it’s seemingly hoop-jumping criteria, Jeremy’s had to wait ten years since his last appeal, to present his case for review, now he has to start all over, find yet more ‘new’ evidence. How many other innocent inmates? Time, ticking away life’s chances and opportunities, career, relationships and love, children, heritage. Anyhow, Shakespeare may be very relevant to these diverse deviations,
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Hamlet (1.5.167-8).
Having not mentioned anything previously he writes of the difficulties he’d been having with his case-worker of the previous four years, a Mr Peter French. ‘I’ve not heard from the commission over what they plan to do yet - but they have a real problem, Mr Peter French, their case worker had no experience in forensic science, no qualifications and no specialist knowledge that would allow him to ridicule and dismiss the pre-eminent scientists we’d put before the Commission. I don’t know what qualifications he had but by the look of his sentence construction and…grammar only basic GCSE English. It is truly shameful that the Commissioners took the opinion of Mr French over our…experts.’ He left the CCRC a few weeks prior to their judgment, I have made over a hundred official complaints about him to Ms Kneller the head of the commission…over his errors and spiteful sneering at some of my submissions…Ms Kneller has never answered any of my complaints…French was never going to investigate any of the allegations of corruption, he was biased and partisan...’
Summing up, Jeremy explains how and where French crossed legal boundaries and how he’s hopeful of an investigation. ‘You are welcome to quote me as I’ve read and re-read this letter and stand by every word.’
I think though that if Jeremy’s not being paranoid and if French and the CCRC, for that matter, are party to deception, he will not get his review. Writing my blog I decide not to ‘quote… every word’ - ditto here.
13 June 2012
‘Ms Kneller… is currently investigating. I know that Mr French deliberately blocked my access to photographs for 4 years, he kept telling me that he could see nothing in the negatives and so couldn’t see the point in handing them over… of course when I finally got them…everything that I’ve been saying for over 25 years could be proven true.’
Ten pages listing his findings in the files withheld by French. Photographs taken on 10 September 1985 showing window's locked and secure with no scratches to the window-sill which upon police investigation had become unlocked and scratched. Blood on window frame, Bible, police logs confirming that PS Bews, PC Myall and myself
These photos prove that the burns on my Dad's neck were caused by the hot end of the rifle's barrel not the hot end of the moderator…That Sheila's two wounds were both made when the moderator was not on the rifle…We could see that the gun was 'staged' on Sheila and that DI Cook, DC Bird, APS Montgomery and PC Woodcock all lied when they said the rifle was first removed from Sheila's body at 11:10…Photos prove and PII documents confirm that the gun was removed from Sheila around 10:15 when her hands and feet were placed in plastic bags…
Crime scene photos show that… Bible, notes, window frame and other exhibits had blood and/or fingerprints on them - but oddly no-one has disclosed whose these are.
He says he 'could go on-and-on' but I couldn't digest all of it in one sitting and have returned several times for 'seconds' though I do spend further time on one aspect, purely because it relates to ex police officer Nick Gradwell who supposedly 'reviewed the whole case' and confidently stated on the 'Tonight' programme, that Sheila's hands and feet were clean, 'spotlessly', according to various police officers at Jeremy's trial.
…photos showed blood on the sole of her (Sheila) right foot, there is no photo of her left foot, the photos also show her right hand is very blood stained…Sheila continued bleeding a lot after the first photos were taken of her, by the time she was photographed at the morgue her face, neck and hair had become almost completely covered in blood.
In regard to the red painted mantel surround, Jeremy writes:
These quotes are taken from the HOLMES 2 computer system which is the home office database. The references are those designated by the police.
On the 6th September, Mr Simpson appointed DS Kenneally to review every aspect of this investigation. (HOLMES 7/18) reveals the outcome of this review at a 6:00pm meeting at headquarters. Accordingly to DI Ainsley, DS Kenneally presented his report to the Chief Constable Robert Bunyard, Assistant Chief Constable Peter Simpson and DCI Ainsley, Head of Essex C.I.D.
His final conclusion is minuted as this:-
'That all the evidence indicated that Sheila WAS responsible'.
It was not until the 12th September that DS Jones mentions for the first time after questioning me for more than 20 hours over four days that forensics had recovered a sound moderator from the scene. (PAGE 104 JB Interview transcript) D.S. Jones stated that this was found to have red paint on it and:-
‘I believe the red paint comes from the WALL in the kitchen where the stove is'.
At the trial, the Jury were told that the scratch marks were found on the underside of the mantle shelf in the kitchen of White House Farm by Ann Eaton, DI Ron Cook and DS Stan Jones on the evening of the 14th August 1985.
Examination of photographs taken by DC Bird on the 12th September, under the instruction of DI Ron Cook, (of the kitchen at White House Farm) reveals that the Aga’s red painted surround is unmarked (see Police Reference Yellow Label 34, also given a second reference White Label 0010).
The roll of 50mm acetate film consisting of 10 negatives in a single strip. DC Bird confirms in his 22nd October witness statement that he took this roll of film whilst at ‘White House Farm’ with DI Ron Cook on the 12th September from 10:30 am onwards.
*Negative Seven shows the red painted Aga surround completely unmarked, free of any scratches or gouges. *Negative Nine is a photograph of exactly the same area of the Aga’s red coloured surround. In this photograph, a large horse shoe shaped scratch mark and a gouge mark can be seen. These marks are identical to those later attributed to having been made by the sound moderator.
Evidence hidden all these years and all this time no-one’s getting any younger.
They thought I'd never get this proof - but I have it now and it's triffic…I'll send you the forms to get cleared for visits…
Lots of love - thank you for the stamps