Stephen Sedley

At almost exactly the same time as the Police were fitting up the Guildford Four, Richard Nixon was discovering that a shredder was a far more important piece of equipment than a photocopier. Late-night shredding parties have since become a feature both of US Administrations and of certain industrial enterprises as the step of judicial investigation approaches. True, not even the shredder was able to keep the CIA’s records from the Ayatollah’s reconstruction brigade, though no doubt embassy equipment has now been upgraded to include incinerators. But the preservation by the Surrey Police of a series of drafts of the ‘voluntary’ confessions attributed to the Guildford Four beggars belief. Somehow the bureaucratic mentality which forbids ever throwing away a piece of paper seems to have triumphed not only over sedulous corruption but even over simple self-preservation.

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