Dear Sir,

Ray Fleming often provokes comment in Letters to the Editor” but Anna Nicholas is much more a rarity. Today (Saturday) she writes against capital punishment principally on moral/religious grounds. I would have little against death by hanging if we could be sure of guilt. At one time DNA seemed a foolproof technique but the trial of O J Simpson in 1997 proved otherwise. Another doubt came from the mid 1970s when under intense pressure for results against the IRA bombing campaigns British Police stitched up many innocent Irish:-

The Guildford Four: wrongly imprisoned for 14 years

The Maguire Seven: 16 years banged up

The Birmingham Six again 16 years before being cleared.

Under earlier legislation they would all have been executed and the gross negligence, forced confessions, withholding of evidence etc of the police possibly never uncovered. By 2007 the European Court of Justice had found the UK police guilty of 12 miscarriages of justice against presumed IRA members.

The turpitude of the police when under Fleet Street pressure is not restricted to the Irish. In the same decade (1973) in the notorious Bakewell Tart sexual assault case the police quickly found the culprit one Stephen Downing a backward 17 year old. It took 27 years before his innocence was decided on. Among other evidence not presented at his trial was his sexual incapacity to have committed the assault. His treatment in prison had been vile and he died shortly after his release.

This is why I oppose the death penalty – an irreversible punishment aggravated by the poor track record of the police in high profile crimes.

Mike Lillico

Playa de Palma

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