Appeal Hearing: R. v Raghip and others (1991)
Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal heard the case and took just 90 minutes to quash all the three convictions, delivering their 74-page decision on the 5th December. R v Raghip and others is now regarded as a landmark ruling because it recognised that ‘Interrogative suggestibility’ might make a confession unreliable.
The lawyers representing the three defendants argued that Silcott’s interview notes were contaminated, and that Raghip’s suggestability and Braithwaite having been denied a lawyer rendered their confessions unreliable too. The Crown prosecutor, Roy Amlot, conceded that the apparent contamination of the evidence rendered all three convictions unsafe. It has been said that Roy Amlot’s statement to the court was ‘one of the more sensational speeches in English Legal history.’ Amlot said, ‘we would not have gone on against Braithwaite, against Raghip, against any other defendants, having learned of the apparent dishonesty of the officer in charge of the case. I will say that because the Crown has to depend on the honesty and the integrity of officers working on the case…. The impact is obviously severe.’
Braithwaite and Raghip released
Braithwaite and Raghip were released on the 25th November 1991. However, Silcott remained in prison for the 1984 murder of Anthony Smith. He was awarded a total of some £17,000 in compensation in 1991 for the conviction he received in the Keith Blakelock case. He was offered up to £200,000 in legal aid in 1995 to sue the police for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. In the end the Metropolitan Police settled ‘out of court’ in 1999 and awarded Silcott £50,000 for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. He was released from prison on licence in October 2003, having served a total of 18 years for Anthony Smith’s murder.
Detectives acquitted in 1994.
In July 1992 Det. Ch. Supt. Melvin was charged with perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and Det. Insp. Maxwell Dingle with conspiracy. None of the three people present during the disputed with Winston Silcott – Melvin, Dingle and Silcott himself—gave evidence during the detective’s trial at the Old Bailey in June and July 1994. The prosecution alleged the notes of the fifth interview with Silcott had been altered to include the self-incriminating remarks. Silcott had refused to answer any questions during the first four interviews. However, during the fifth interview, after being told that he struck Blakelock with a machete or something very similar, the notes show him saying that that no one will believe the ‘kids’ who have spoken to the police and ‘those kids will never go to court. You wait and see. No one else will talk to you. You can’t keep me away from them.’
Then, the detectives’ lawyers produced 14 undisclosed witness statements from the taints Keith Blakelock murder inquiry, one of which said that Silcott had been carrying a knife with a two-foot-long blade on the night of the murder, and that he had attacked Blakelock. The detectives were acquitted on the 26th July by a unanimous jury verdict. After the verdict they told reporters that they had been through a ‘terrible ordeal.’ Both officers had been suspended during the case. Melvin returned to work afterwards, while Dingle took retirement.