Duncan Campbell (Former Crime Correspondent of the Guardian)

Reproduced with the kind permission of Waterside Press, who retains the copyright. Publication of all or part of these appreciations requires the written permission of Waterside Press.

It was mainly through the exposure of the appalling miscarriages of justice that had taken place in the seventies, such as those involving the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, the Maguire Seven and Judith Ward, that the British public first became properly alerted to the sheer scale of the scandal. As more and more victims of faulty decisions or deliberate malpractice emerged blinking into the sunlight outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand after a successful appeal, it became clear that these were not isolated errors but that there was a grave problem at the heart of the criminal legal system

The case of the Cardiff Three, as it is best known, was a miscarriage of justice written in the starkest language. This was the story of three young men convicted of the 1988 murder of Lynette White in Cardiff who were freed on appeal in 1992. It is of particular significance because the real perpetrator of the murder, Jeffrey Gafoor, was finally traced through developments in DNA and, after attempting suicide, confessed to his crime, a crime made worse by the fact that he had allowed others to, as it were, serve his sentence for him. Such vindication, as Satish Sekar explains in this book, is rare. More often, a shadow of suspicion lurks over the innocent man or woman, with unsubtle hints that some of them have ‘got away with murder’.

The Cardiff Three – sometimes called the Cardiff Five, because five men were arrested and charged and initially held in prison, although only three were convicted – was and will remain one of the most crucial cases in the history of criminal justice in the United Kingdom and is worthy of detailed examination: not only for what went wrong at the time but for the many other issues it has thrown up in its wake.

No-one is better suited to the task of explaining and unravelling the complexities of the story than Satish whose pioneering work has played a large part in our understanding of the murder and its ramifications. He has ploughed an often lonely furrow in pursuit of the story long after it had slipped from the front pages of the national press. Investigating such cases is a time-consuming and sometimes dangerous occupation and, as the demand of instant news and information has increased, it has become harder and harder for such stories to receive the attention they deserve.

The literature is a distinguished one, Ludovic Kennedy’s Ten Rillington Place to Paul Foot’s Murder at the Farm: Who Killed Carl Bridgewater? and Bob Woffinden’s magisterial Miscarriages of Justice. It is good that Satish Sekar can now add a new work to the genre.”

Duncan Campbell

(Freelance journalist, former Crime Correspondent of the Guardian and author)

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