Leave to Appeal.
Broadwater Farm defence Campaign.
A campaign to free ‘The Tottenham Six’ gathered pace as more and more people started to clamour for their release. This was organised by the ‘Broadwater Farm defence Campaign’. They published an 18-page report in 1987 by two American law Professors, Margaret Burnham and Lennox Hinds. They had attended part of the trial at the Old Bailey and had had wrote that Silcott’s conviction ‘represented a very serious miscarriage of Justice.’ It was pointed out that the New Statesman and Time Out wrote sympathetic pieces. Meanwhile MP’s and trade unionists were lobbied. In May 1989, Winston Silcott was elected Honorary President of the famously left wing ‘London School of Economics’ by its students’ union. This was to the dismay of the college’s more serious director and the guvnors. However, Winston Silcott resigned shortly afterwards, saying that he did not want the students to become scapegoats.
By this time Engin Raghip’s solicitor had changed and was now Gareth Peirce. He had represented the ‘Guildford Four as well as the Birmingham Six, these were very prominent cases of miscarriages of justice, Raghip also had another barrister, namely Michael Mansfield, a well-known and successful Barrister. It was now that Gareth Peirce applied for ‘leave to appeal.’ She began to explore Raghip’s mental state, arguing that his confession could not have been relied upon.
She arranged for him to be examined by Dr. Gisli Guojonsson of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, a specialist in suggestability; she concluded that Raghip was ‘unsually suggestible,’ with a mental age of between 10 and 11 years of age. Silcott was again represented by Barbara Mills and Mark Braithwaite by Stephen Kamlish. Mills noted that there was a severe lack of photographic or scientific evidence, she argued that Silcott would have been unlikely to stop the firefighters from extinguishing the fire on the deck of the Tangmere block as he rented his shop there.
On the 13th December 1988 Lord Lane (1918-2005) who was then Lord Chief Justice of England, dismissed the applications as he argued of Raghip that the Jury had had ample time opportunity at the time to form its own opinion of him. Amnesty International highly criticised the decision, pointing to the problems with confessions made in the absence of lawyers, they in turn were criticised by the Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd. He said that Amnesty had abandoned its impartiality. During a BBC ‘Newsnight’ discussion on the case, Lord Scarman (1911-2004,) a former law lord, said the convictions ought to be overturned. Gareth Peirce obtained another psychologist’s report about Raghip and was supported by Raghip’s MP, Michael Portillo. He asked the Home Secretary to review the case, she also submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the way Raghip had been interviewed breached the European Convention on Human Rights. In December 1990 the then Home Secretary, Kenneth Baker referred the case back to the Court of appeal.
Electrostatic deposition/detection analysis (ESDA) test.
In November 1990, in parallel with the efforts of Gareth Pierce, Silcott’s lawyers requested total access to the seven pages of Silcott’s original notes from his crucial fifth interview. These were the notes he claimed had been fabricated – could be submitted for an Electrostatic deposition/detection analysis (ESDA) test. The test can identify a small electrostatic charge left on a page when the page above it is written on; in this way, the test’ developers say, the chronological integrity of interview notes can be determined. In Silcott’s case, according to the scientist who conducted the ESDA test, Robert Radley, the notes from the section of the fifth interview in which Silcott appeared to incriminate himself had been inserted after the other notes were written. The seventh and final page of the fifth interview, where the participants would normally sign, was missing. The ESDA test suggested that, on the third to sixth pages of the interview, no impressions had been left .from the previous page, although these earlier impressions appeared throughout the rest of the notes. According to Will Bennett in ‘The Independent newspaper’ the test also revealed an imprint of a different page five from the one submitted in evidence which was clearly the same interview with Silcott but in which he made no implicit admissions. ‘In addition to this, David Baxendale, a Home Office forensic expert who was asked to investigate by Essex Police, said that the paper on which the disputed notes had been written came from a different batch of paper from the rest of the interview.
The disputed section of the interview had been written down by Det/Insp. Maxwell Dingle. It said that, when Silcott was told the police had witness statements that he had attacked Keith Blakelock, he replied, ‘they are only kids. No one is going to believe them.’ He reportedly said later,’ Those kids will never go to court, you just wait and see.’ As a result of the ESDA test evidence, The Home Secretary added Silcott and Braithwaite to Raghip’s appeal.