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  • That makes Jean Justice getting 81 votes in 1973 look quite good. (Lincoln by-election)

    Comment


    • The Stechford By-Election in March 1977 was a big deal at the time. It was caused by the resignation of sitting Labour MP Roy Jenkins who resigned to take up the Presidency of the European Commission, and was viewed by many as a test for James Callaghan's not-very-good government at the time. Paul Foot represented the Socialist Alliance, which as I understand it was an amalgam, purely for electoral purposes, of several left-wing and Trotskyist political parties. He never stood a chance, and I would guess he stood merely to test the water. There was also a candidate for the Marxist Alliance, who got marginally more votes than Foot. The National Front also stood. Stechford had been a Labour seat for some time, but at this election the Tory candidate won. Two years later, at the 1979 General Election, it returned to Labour. Today's political climate seems much calmer than back then!

      As The Spectator article says, Foot appeared unable to understand why the 'workers' of this country never jumped at the possibility of voting in an ultra-Left government. He should have listened to them.

      Graham
      We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture and hypothesis. - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure Of Silver Blaze

      Comment


      • I’ve taken the liberty of replying on this thread since the other one concerns Bob Woffinden.

        Regarding NickB’s observation that the Court of Appeal will not shrink from quashing judgments concerning persons that have been hanged, they may not be quite as bold as he suggests.

        The Bentley case (1952) was widely regarded as a miscarriage of justice at the time given that the hanged youth was under arrest at the time his companion (probably) shot a police officer. In the years that followed it became a cause celebre for those opposed to capital punishment. Even if one accepted the concept of common purpose, it became clear that Bentley, a person who would now be described as having ‘learning difficulties,’ should have been spared on the grounds of diminished responsibility. There is the added factor that the jury, whose decision we are often told is sacrosanct, recommended mercy for Bentley but that this was not enacted by the Home Secretary. In short, if the CoA could not overturn the Bentley verdict there would be little point in its existence.

        The Mattan case is much less known but equally disturbing. A Somali sailor, then working at a foundry in Cardiff, was executed after a less than inspiring defence from his own barrister who referred to him as a ‘semi-civilised savage.’ Lord knows what the prosecution were saying. This racial prejudice was surely a factor in his being found guilty, since Matton was married to a local, white woman and had children by her. Fortunately, our society is more alert to prejudice these days, and those with learning difficulties or of a different race are more likely to be granted justice. The Mattan case was an embarrassment in a multi-racial society and it took no great courage to overturn that judgment.

        The Kelly case (1949) is of a different kind, since the hanged man came from that section of society which can always be treated harshly without fear of being called to account: Kelly was a poor, white, male, with low education. He was also a member of what used to be called ‘the criminal class’ but is now referred to as ‘the underclass,’ a public nuisance given to thieving and drunkenness. The pragmatic Bert Balmer, the chief detective leading the inquiry, no doubt reckoned that Liverpool might be better off without the activities of George Kelly and that even were he not guilty, the shock effect would have a salutary effect on the Merseyside underworld. (As I have explained earlier, I think this had an effect on the Hanratty witnesses in Liverpool and Rhyl.)

        But as with Bentley, the guilty verdict caused concern at the time, given there was a re-trial and the main prosecution witnesses were a prostitute and her pimp. This concern was not limited to the criminal class but shared by those in legal circles as well. Years later, when a Liverpool journalist gained access to the police files, he highlighted some of Bert Balmer’s procedures such as tampering with time sheets and coaching witnesses, as well as unearthing a statement from the original suspect which was self-incriminatory but deemed inadmissible as evidence at the time due to coercion. Balmer learned from this it seems, for in future he coerced statements not from the suspect but from their criminal associates, in return for favours. Following the publication of the journalist’s book the Kelly verdict was widely acknowledged as unsafe, so the CoA had to bite the bullet on that one. That Kelly’s defence barrister was Rose Heilbron, a lady who rose to high office in legal circles and never believed in his guilt, no doubt helped.

        However, they have not accepted a miscarriage of justice in the very similar Devlin/Burns case (1951) which was also investigated by Bert Balmer. The evidence came from Balmer’s usual sources and is no more reliable than in the Kelly case, but here the CoA are in a bind. For how could they accept two miscarriages of justice investigated by the same police force using similar methods in two years? The whole point about miscarriages of justice is that they are supposed to be tragic failures in an otherwise sound system; they are not supposed to arise from conspiracies to fit up the most convenient villain.
        The CoA will overturn verdicts when it is the political interest to do so, and not before.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Graham View Post
          Because JH's defence absolutely denied any guilt, they could not use in evidence his quite lengthy record of mental problems and treatment. Which kind of supposes that had he pleaded guilty but with diminished responsibility he may have escaped a capital sentence. I feel sure that Sherrard considered the latter as a possibility.

          Graham
          Sherrard and Hanratty had to choose between (1) Hanratty didn't do it or (2) Hanratty did it but was a bit bonkers (to use a non-medical term). What could not be advanced before the jury would be a combination of two, namely Hanratty didn't do it, but if you, the jury, find that Hanratty did it, then he did it because he was a bit bonkers.

          IN THE Stefan Kiszko case such a hybrid argument was advanced by David Waddington QC on behalf of the accused Kiszko with devastating results for the latter.

          Comment


          • Moste’s plastic suit theory seems very far-fetched; what if the driver had been stopped by police before depositing the car and asked, ‘Would you step outside the car in your plastic suit please, sir.’ What reason would Valerie Storie have for not mentioning his unusual attire? And if Gregsten was the victim of an assassination then it was a very ham-fisted one which left a witness behind.

            For all that, Moste continues to address two of the main weaknesses in the prosecution case: the lack of motive and the lack of any forensic evidence from a car which had been the scene of a murder and sexual assault. In the process he has to question the reported testimony of Valerie Storie which some might find offensive, given that her account of being shot is clearly undeniable. I think he is entitled to do this since there is scant corroboration of the movements of the Morris Minor from the time it left the Taplow Inn until it turned up in Redbridge.

            I imagine Moste lays some significance on Valerie Storie’s reported words to the census taker John Kerr, to the effect that ‘We picked up a man near Slough.’ Given her condition most observers see her words as merely a rough explanation of what happened in the cornfield and nothing more than that. That’s a perfectly fair interpretation so far as I am concerned, but it does not preclude her words being a description of an arranged meeting. I say ‘arranged’ because I doubt that a couple would be picking up a casual hitch-hiker in the late evening. If so, who were they meeting and why?

            The Road Research Laboratory (Slough) where Gregsten and Valerie Storie were employed seems an anodyne title and so does his title of ‘Research Scientist.’ He is sometimes referred to as a ‘Research Physicist’ which sounds slightly more grand. They were working at the RRL at a crucial time in UK transport history, when the Transport Act 1962 was about to be placed on the statute book. After the war, the Labour government had nationalized transport under the British Transport Commission but this new legislation, under a Conservative government, was a watershed in the movement from public rail to private road use. It also established the principle of nationalized bodies being expected to make a profit rather than, as before, providing a service. The haulage industry was deregulated and largely given over to private control.

            As ever, there were political considerations involved, although arguments persist as to how crucial they were in regards to what followed. The railway unions were not just well organized and a potential threat to government, they also contributed to Labour Party funds. In contrast, the construction industry has long been a reliable source of Conservative funding whether that be building motorways or houses. The move to car ownership also allowed the expansion of suburban living, a real boon to housebuilders in the years to follow, and ultimately out-of-town shopping complexes though I am not so sure that could have been foreseen back in the early 1960s.

            There were fortunes to be made from the public purse and the Transport Minister, Ernest Marples, did not intend to miss out. He effectively owned a construction company which won a few tenders for motorway construction, on one occasion Marples used his powers to reject a lower bid in order to allow his own company to build a flyover. Marples was obviously corrupt and was forced to cut and run from the UK in 1974, leaving behind myriad debts, to enjoy the fruits of his labours in Monaco. Like many in charge of the public purse, Marples was none too keen in paying into it, and it was probably his unpaid tax for 30 years which forced his hand. Long before this, Marples had rather artfully left the job of cutting the railway system to his appointee Beeching, probably an honest but coldly logical man, who reduced the rail system and has been damned ever since.

            Here for me is the first possible reason for an arranged meeting. Gregsten knew of corrupt deals/kickbacks/backhanders from his work in the RRL and wanted either a piece of the action, or maybe his conscience was troubling him and he was prepared to blow the whistle. Since he was working in a laboratory rather than the finance office this seems a rather tenuous link, but when there are large amounts of money swilling around the system some of it is bound to spill out somewhere. Maybe some nervous accountant confided in him and supplied paperwork.

            A stronger possible reason for arranging a meeting would be that Gregsten’s work likely involved road safety. There are tyre companies, tarmac companies, brake companies all with a massive vested interest in their products being granted a safety licence. Amazingly, back in 1960, the RRL was running successful tests with driverless cars and ‘speaking’ road signs. Lots of government money for research in these days, and massive profits for the private companies able to take on the developments. Was Gregsten, a man apparently short of money, haggling over the price? Then again, he might have been an honest man who was refusing to doctor his test results. He might have believed he was going to meet an investigative journalist (not Paul Foot I assume) to spill the beans.

            It’s not the ‘arranged meeting’ that is the problem for me in this scenario, it’s the assassination. In the UK a man such as Gregsten can be bought off with a bulky envelope, or more likely a well-paid promotion (usually to a job beyond his competence, the better to keep him in line.) He could have been outed as what is now called a ‘Love Rat’ by the tabloids, a man cheating on and then deserting his wife and family. Given his history of depression he could have been sectioned by the State or more likely been treated to the headline ‘Mad Mike Loses his Marples’ as he attempted to tell his story.

            In short, I’m sympathetic to Moste’s theory of an arranged meeting. It’s not the motive to silence Gregsten that troubles me, but rather the means.
            Last edited by cobalt; 07-08-2018, 04:58 PM.

            Comment


            • I've noted previously on these boards that in 1983 the battered corpse of wealthy and successful London lawyer Janice Weston was found in a lay-by on the A1 in Huntingdonshire. There was no sign of her car - she had been en route from London to a country house she and her husband were renovating. Her husband was in France at the time, which he was able to prove. Four days later her blood-stained Alfa Romeo was found only a few hundred yards from her Notting Hill home, but there was absolutely no forensic evidence found to show that anyone other than Janice and her husband had driven that car. No finger-prints, hair, nothing. The lack of vehicle forensics in the A6 case is therefore not unique, and it has to be considered that in the 22 years between the cases police forensic technology must have moved on significantly.


              I'm not certain what Gregsten's official title actually was at the RRL. He was certainly involved in some kind of research, but how far up the hierarchical ladder he was I really don't know. With his background of depression and instability, it is unlikely - my opinion only - that he would have been in anything like a very senior position at the RRL. I was once employed as a laboratory technician by a company involved in the development of Concorde, and had to sign the Official Secrets Act, but I don't recall anyone offering to meet me with the aim of bribing me for my knowledge.....what little bit I had.

              I can't accept that Gregsten was in so high a position at the RRL to attract the attention of competitors and interested parties who were prepared to bribe him, or even in so privileged a position that he was aware of any dubious goings-on at high levels within the RRL. I rather suspect that Gregsten, although labelled by the media as a 'research scientist', was probably not much more than a senior technician.

              However, I don't disagree at all with what Cobalt says about Ernie Marples and corruption - he was a bad 'un, effectively forced to flee the country and I believe his assets were seized by our Government.

              It's good to discuss this case and possible motives, but I don't believe there ever was a motive as such. Gregsten and Storie were the unfortunate victims of a young man with a history of mental problems armed with a newly-acquired gun and who seemingly enjoyed the brief power it gave him. I never believed that Hanratty was planning murder when he arrived at the cornfield. In fact, I don't believe he was planning much at all - it was a spur of the moment action on his part that went tragically wrong.

              Graham
              We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture and hypothesis. - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure Of Silver Blaze

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Graham View Post

                ... I never believed that Hanratty was planning murder when he arrived at the cornfield. In fact, I don't believe he was planning much at all - it was a spur of the moment action on his part that went tragically wrong.

                Graham
                Hi Graham,

                No great disagreement from me with that or the earlier content of your post. However, it does seem all the more odd that no one saw him (or at least came forward to say they saw him) in the vicinity earlier that day. Applying your reasoning, there was no real need for him to be in hiding then.

                Best regards,

                OneRound

                Comment


                • Hi OR,

                  IIRC, Valerie said that 'the man' told him that he'd been in the vicinity for some time, a couple of days in fact, had been 'living rough', and had walked to the car from across the field. However, she also said that he was 'immaculately dressed', which James Hanratty usually was. My feeling is that he had been in the area only a very short time, and as it was just about dark when he tapped on the car's window, it is unlikely that anyone else in the vicinity did see him. I would suspect that he arrived at the field from Taplow and the A4, either walking there in the dusk or, possibly, being driven to somewhere near the field. However, as you correctly say, it would seem no-one saw him, which suggests to me that he walked to the field in gathering darkness.

                  All of which begs the question: why was he in the area on that evening and at that time..........?

                  Graham
                  We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture and hypothesis. - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure Of Silver Blaze

                  Comment


                  • Hi Cobalt. A well chronicled and thought out post,Its refreshing to have someone other than myself willing to try and break through the apparent bondage that is Valerie Storie's word , rather than spin in a never ending circle with what we are told is factual.
                    Your probably correct on the plastic coveralls idea, though in 1961 one could purchase for 10/6d. a fold up garment ,which was extremely popular called a 'PakaMak' I had one ,they would fold up quickly and neatly and fit into a side pocket of a jacket no problem at all . Though as people would most likely point out, 'they were designed to keep out the rain, not blood' ,rather akin to ' Alphon couldn't have driven the motor car,he didn't have a driving licence!' LOL.
                    More seriously though. If we imagine for a moment that Storie was lying about most of the events, to protect her good name, chastity, reputation or whatever, or even worse had been killed by the gunman, what we would be left with would be the knowledge that the couple were planning a motor rally at the weekend , taking in the beautiful landscape of the Chilterns, from roughly 'High Wycombe' to the north of Slough and terminating around Barton-le -Clay ,Just shy of Clophill/Maulden. I really have to think that the detectives at the time, would have considered this as too much of a coincidence.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Graham View Post
                      Hi OR,

                      IIRC, Valerie said that 'the man' told him that he'd been in the vicinity for some time, a couple of days in fact, had been 'living rough', and had walked to the car from across the field. However, she also said that he was 'immaculately dressed', which James Hanratty usually was. My feeling is that he had been in the area only a very short time, and as it was just about dark when he tapped on the car's window, it is unlikely that anyone else in the vicinity did see him. I would suspect that he arrived at the field from Taplow and the A4, either walking there in the dusk or, possibly, being driven to somewhere near the field. However, as you correctly say, it would seem no-one saw him, which suggests to me that he walked to the field in gathering darkness.

                      All of which begs the question: why was he in the area on that evening and at that time..........?

                      Graham
                      The trouble with all this is, The gunman approaching the car at twilight with his so called newly acquired shooter, would simply have told the couple to get out of the car, told them to lay on their bellies , not to move a muscle untill he had left, then with one hell of a 'job well done head rush, would have set off for London with his loaned motor in the full happy knowledge that the cops would not have had a chance to react to his naughtiness untill he was on the tube, heading to his local for a nightcap. I think what we have here is one of the many Storrie Porkies.

                      Comment


                      • Moste,

                        You are often viewed on this site as man with not enough respect for Valerie Storie. I will take a different approach and suggest that you are actually giving her too much respect.

                        I do not do this because I have any ill-feeling towards Valerie Storie, in fact after being tested to a degree that few of us could imagine, she emerges as a woman to be respected. She led, after the events, a very good life. I also believe she gave an honest identification of James Hanratty in the ID parade. I think most of us, whatever our position, can agree on that at least.

                        However, her testimony is a different matter, given under duress in a hospital bed when her health was in question. I think John Kerr got the real story: ‘We picked up a man near Slough,’ when not her health but her very life was in question. It is significant, I think, that Kerr corrects himself in the interview (available on youtube) to establish that the murderer was picked up voluntarily, and that the couple were not kidnapped. Check for yourselves.

                        If this was an arranged meeting, as Moste suspects, then it may have been that Valerie Storie was the prime mover in it taking place. She wanted Gregsten to leave his wife and live with her, as was being planned as I understand. Whether the meeting was for financial gain, or part of a whistle blowing operation to reveal corruption, is open to debate. No matter, after it all went disastrously wrong, Valerie Storie could hardly claim responsibility for setting the meeting up. She had, in effect, lost not just a lover but been responsible for the death of husband and father. Who would want to admit to that catalogue of crimes? Who phoned her in the hospital? Why did Mrs. Gregsten pay a visit? Was she being warned off?

                        Easier for her to run with the mad gunman theory, which in itself produced absolutely no police progress for at least a month. That is, I suspect, because the whole narrative she supplied was massively incomplete. The police were on a wild goose chase. There are chunks of information missing from her own work at the RRL, Gregsten’s, the car club they belonged to, their relationship itself which seemed to blow hot and cold, the ill-feeling towards them apparently existed from within the workforce at RRL.

                        I don’t think Paul Foot was quite the investigative journalist he thought he was. I share his politics for the most part: I live in a country where every Tuesday the head of parliament (representing the people) has to reassure the Queen (representing the aristocracy) that s/he has no intention of taking their land from them. That has been the case since 1660 and helps create an underclass where the likes of James Hanratty try to make some sort of illegal living. The option is to be a window cleaner.

                        But Foot was wandering around Liverpool and Rhyl when he should, in hindsight admittedly, have been skewering statements from work colleagues of Gregsten, his bosses, the Storie family, investigating William Ewer’s war record, checking the contracts for motorways signed off by Ernie Marples. Did he close in on Taplow, the railway staff, even the Taplow Inn where at least Justice made some headway. Justice maybe had a better nose for the case than Foot did.

                        Comment


                        • The armchair psychology that says Hanratty wanted to achieve power with a gun is probably best left in the armchair. Hanratty was a thief. Not a robber. A thief. He wanted money, not power.

                          In the same way a ‘flasher’ is not a rapist. Although that did not stop some poor sod being hauled in for the appalling Rachel Nickell murder (1992) and deemed responsible for many years even after acquittal until the eventual culprit was caught. Eventually, after about 15 years, the police apologised. Not so difficult really, since Napper, I think his name was, had already given a full confession.

                          Why would Hanratty need to bandy words with a couple he had never met before? His conversation might have been sharp, but was certainly limited, so the whole enterprise is ridiculous. In theory, he just needed the car, according to the prosecution, to get his way back to London. Moste explains how this could have been done in a matter of minutes.

                          One overwhelming problem with the ‘Hanratty in the cornfield’ scenario is the quantity of ammunition. Whether the spare ammo was in a bag, as sometimes reported, or in his pockets, as I think Valerie Storie testified, the question has to be asked why he needed so much? He was not doing a James Cagney ‘You Dirty Cops’ shoot out so why did he need more than six shots? For a robbery in Taplow? It makes no sense. As little sense as him carrying this ammo on public transport.

                          Whoever the killer was, he was surely driven close to the point of engagement, be that a cornfield or Deadman’s Hill.

                          Comment


                          • 582 6th October 2007, 09:29 PM
                            Graham
                            Superintendent Join Date: Jul 2006
                            Location: West Midlands
                            Posts: 1,799




                            --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            Hi Limehouse.

                            Until the DNA results were published, I'd have bet my sweet bippy that Hanratty had been stitched up for the A6 murder. And I think that goes for 99% of the people taking an interest in this crime.

                            Hi Graham found this from 2007. Quick question for you.

                            If , as is my belief, the D N A. turns out to be totally unreliable, due to

                            Corruption , contamination ,etc. Would this clear the way for you to return to

                            Your original belief, that Hanratty was entirely innocent?

                            (PS . Although your post is part of a longer entry, It is not taken out of context)

                            I am genuinely interested to know if you have changed your mind over time.

                            (Please ,always feel free to hang on any of my words.)
                            Last edited by moste; 07-09-2018, 09:42 PM.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by cobalt View Post
                              The armchair psychology that says Hanratty wanted to achieve power with a gun is probably best left in the armchair. Hanratty was a thief. Not a robber. A thief. He wanted money, not power.

                              In the same way a ‘flasher’ is not a rapist. Although that did not stop some poor sod being hauled in for the appalling Rachel Nickell murder (1992) and deemed responsible for many years even after acquittal until the eventual culprit was caught. Eventually, after about 15 years, the police apologised. Not so difficult really, since Napper, I think his name was, had already given a full confession.


                              Why would Hanratty need to bandy words with a couple he had never met before? His conversation might have been sharp, but was certainly limited, so the whole enterprise is ridiculous. In theory, he just needed the car, according to the prosecution, to get his way back to London. Moste explains how this could have been done in a matter of minutes.

                              One overwhelming problem with the ‘Hanratty in the cornfield’ scenario is the quantity of ammunition. Whether the spare ammo was in a bag, as sometimes reported, or in his pockets, as I think Valerie Storie testified, the question has to be asked why he needed so much? He was not doing a James Cagney ‘You Dirty Cops’ shoot out so why did he need more than six shots? For a robbery in Taplow? It makes no sense. As little sense as him carrying this ammo on public transport.

                              Whoever the killer was, he was surely driven close to the point of engagement, be that a cornfield or Deadman’s Hill.
                              Did the amount of ammo not come from the bus findings ?
                              I thought Storie only alluded to , ' he tapped his pocket, indicating bullets hidden in there.'
                              What Im trying to say is, if the 60 rounds and the alleged .38 revolver were a plant, as part of the stitch up, ( which I lean towards) then perhaps the guy alleged to have been in the back of the car only had 6 rounds in the gun and enough to reload once.
                              Regardless though ,one thing that's certain, the assailant took on a seriously different persona from the two apparently calculated shots through Gregstens face, ( I won't accept the accident claim) and the mindless gunning down of Storie. That person who did that,
                              had clearly 'lost it' using modern parlance. WHY?
                              The other thing from your post , I would just comment on, Storie helping us with the gunman in the field scenario , I agree he would need to have been dropped off. However , the statement to Kerr ' picked up a man near Slough,'makes much more sense . While not convinced on the Alphon theory, Its interesting that the 'Dolphin greyhound stadium was just across the A4 from Slough railway station, Alphon was known to frequent this racing venue on numerous occasions, which gives credence to Mary Lantz claim that Alphon had been in her pub.
                              Alphon being the chap who people seemed to continually cater to, possibly made the arrangement whereby, Gregsten pulled over with little or no inconvenience to Pete, right outside the stadium .
                              Last edited by moste; 07-09-2018, 10:49 PM.

                              Comment


                              • Once we discount the evidence of the only witness (excluding the murderer) then the solution to this case is only limited by our imagination.

                                So we undoubtedly have Ernie Marples, Dick Beeching and Jimmy Cagney involved in some way or other with the A6 Murder but what about Malenkov, Nasser, Prokofiev, Rockefeller, the Rosenbergs, Marciano and Brando, all names to conjure with and none of whom seem to have been interviewed by Acott and Oxford. Rum eh?

                                They all can't have cast iron alibis, like Jim Hanratty, the most famous former guest of Ingledene's Room 4 which he must have shared with the communist agitator Joe Sayle. Strange eh?

                                Was the frame up of Hanratty orchestrated by the communist bloc. Was Gregsten murdered on the orders of the CIA? So many questions, so few answers.

                                Comment

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