Inside the system

Paul Foot

One of the first traditionalists to complain when Home Secretary Douglas Hurd referred the case of the Guildford Four to the Court of Appeal was Ivor Stanbrook, Tory MP for Orpington. Mr Stanbrook was worried about the effect on British justice of all this questioning of verdicts in celebrated criminal cases. Yet when the Guildford Four were freed after the Director of Public Prosecutions decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to sustain their conviction, Mr Stanbrook hailed the decision as a ‘vindication of British justice’. The freeing of the Four, he said, showed how British justice could correct its own mistakes. Inside the system, he exulted, the faults of the system had been ironed out.

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