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  • Originally posted by Graham View Post
    It's always slightly surprised me that the A6 Case has but rarely featured in any of TV's 'true crime' documentaries. At least, not for years. In particular, I would have thought that the Case would be a natural for 'Murder, Mystery and My Family'. It was a pretty sensational case at the time, but little doubt that the vast majority of the general public did not feel that the wrong man had been hanged. It was mooted that a fresh appeal was going to be launched in 2011 or thereabouts, but nothing happened, I suspect because no fresh evidence to support Hanratty's case was available.

    Graham
    Hi Graham - A few quick personal thoughts and opinions:

    * I wasn't quite of school age when Hanratty went to the gallows and so had no understanding of the public mood at the time but accept what you say. Less than a decade later though, Foot certainly caused some of the public to wonder about what happened.

    * I like 'Murder, Mystery and My Family' and have watched many of the programmes.

    * Annoyingly though, I missed the entire second series due to holiday and that's the only one that's not been made available online!

    * Even for someone like me who believes Hanratty got a raw deal from the Court of Appeal in 2002, the Judge on the programme sometimes seems a little too kindly disposed towards the convicted person featured.

    * I would guess the A6 Case hasn't been - and isn't going to be - featured on the programme as, following investigation and referral by the Criminal Cases Review Commission to the Court of Appeal who confidently threw it out, there's not really anywhere for it be sent by the Judge even if wanted to.

    * The talk of a further appeal in 2011 mainly came from Richard Ingrams and seemed more an attempt to uphold the reputation of his late colleague Foot than there being any fresh evidence in support of Hanratty.

    Best regards,
    OneRound

    Comment


    • Originally posted by OneRound View Post

      Hi Graham - A few quick personal thoughts and opinions:

      * I wasn't quite of school age when Hanratty went to the gallows and so had no understanding of the public mood at the time but accept what you say. Less than a decade later though, Foot certainly caused some of the public to wonder about what happened.

      * I like 'Murder, Mystery and My Family' and have watched many of the programmes.

      * Annoyingly though, I missed the entire second series due to holiday and that's the only one that's not been made available online!

      * Even for someone like me who believes Hanratty got a raw deal from the Court of Appeal in 2002, the Judge on the programme sometimes seems a little too kindly disposed towards the convicted person featured.

      * I would guess the A6 Case hasn't been - and isn't going to be - featured on the programme as, following investigation and referral by the Criminal Cases Review Commission to the Court of Appeal who confidently threw it out, there's not really anywhere for it be sent by the Judge even if wanted to.

      * The talk of a further appeal in 2011 mainly came from Richard Ingrams and seemed more an attempt to uphold the reputation of his late colleague Foot than there being any fresh evidence in support of Hanratty.

      Best regards,
      OneRound
      Hi OR,

      a few quick comments:

      - it was quite a sensational case in 1961, 'featuring' as it did an un-married couple in a car and an apparently deranged gunman. Public opinion at the time - I was about 15 and still at school - was very firmly on the side of Valerie Storey - as you would expect - and the feeling was that Hanratty got his just deserts. There wasn't much of a crowd outside Bedford Prison on the morning of his execution, which used to be taken as a general indication of public feeling. Yet just a few years before there was a vast crowd outside Holloway Prison when Ruth Ellis was executed.

      - the thing about Foot is, that had Hanratty come from a well-to-do middle-class family, it is likely that Foot wouldn't have been interested. For all his public-school education and 50000 salary from the Daily Mirror, Foot was an enthusiastic member of the Trotskyist 'Socialist Workers Party'. But - back in the 60's and 70's I always read 'Private Eye', and the first page I'd turn to would be Foot's column. He certainly stood up for the 'little people' in society, no doubt about that. And it is largely thanks to Foot that I initially thought that Hanratty was innocent. However, that opinion changed over the course of a few years.

      - may I ask why you think Hanratty got a raw deal at the 2002 Appeal?

      - re: the 2001 Appeal that wasn't, I never knew that it was Richard Ingrams who was behind it. Ingrams, when editor of Private Eye, became increasingly convinced that Foot was using his paper to promote International Socialism, with which Ingrams plainly had no truck. As a result, Ingrams sacked him. (Later, Ingrams denied that this was the case....). But without fresh admissible evidence, and a nice big stock of 's, the planned 2011 Appeal was never going to happen.

      - to his credit (and I've said this before) towards the end of his life Foot admitted that he now was convinced that Alphon was a fraud who knew much less about the A6 Case than he claimed, and also that Janet Gregsten was not the angry wronged-woman he had once thought she was.

      Graham

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

      Comment


      • Background neither defines nor contains man. The greatest practical exponent of Marxism was a middle class Russian called Lenin whose father was a school inspector. Marxism’s most effective opponent within post-war Britain was a working class man called Ernie Bevin who had known poverty and left school around 14. Foot would have supported any injustice he saw, although I take your point about Hanratty being a working class victim of the UK justice system as viewed by Foot.

        I don’t entirely agree with your account of Foot and Mrs. Gregsten. The last part is accurate enough in that Foot was pleasantly surprised by her demeanour and left convinced that, if there had been a plot of some kind, then she was no part of it. Her neutral attitude to Foot has not been echoed by one of Gregsten’s sons however.

        Regarding Alphon, Foot said that either Alphon had been involved in some way in the A6 Case or had been leading us all a merry dance. However Foot then added that he preferred the former suspicion but had nothing available to prove it. That is not the same as saying he believed Alphon was a fraud.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Graham View Post

          Hi OR,

          a few quick comments:

          - it was quite a sensational case in 1961, 'featuring' as it did an un-married couple in a car and an apparently deranged gunman. Public opinion at the time - I was about 15 and still at school - was very firmly on the side of Valerie Storey - as you would expect - and the feeling was that Hanratty got his just deserts. There wasn't much of a crowd outside Bedford Prison on the morning of his execution, which used to be taken as a general indication of public feeling. Yet just a few years before there was a vast crowd outside Holloway Prison when Ruth Ellis was executed.

          - the thing about Foot is, that had Hanratty come from a well-to-do middle-class family, it is likely that Foot wouldn't have been interested. For all his public-school education and 50000 salary from the Daily Mirror, Foot was an enthusiastic member of the Trotskyist 'Socialist Workers Party'. But - back in the 60's and 70's I always read 'Private Eye', and the first page I'd turn to would be Foot's column. He certainly stood up for the 'little people' in society, no doubt about that. And it is largely thanks to Foot that I initially thought that Hanratty was innocent. However, that opinion changed over the course of a few years.

          - may I ask why you think Hanratty got a raw deal at the 2002 Appeal?

          - re: the 2001 Appeal that wasn't, I never knew that it was Richard Ingrams who was behind it. Ingrams, when editor of Private Eye, became increasingly convinced that Foot was using his paper to promote International Socialism, with which Ingrams plainly had no truck. As a result, Ingrams sacked him. (Later, Ingrams denied that this was the case....). But without fresh admissible evidence, and a nice big stock of 's, the planned 2011 Appeal was never going to happen.

          - to his credit (and I've said this before) towards the end of his life Foot admitted that he now was convinced that Alphon was a fraud who knew much less about the A6 Case than he claimed, and also that Janet Gregsten was not the angry wronged-woman he had once thought she was.

          Graham
          Hi Graham - thanks for your recollections of the time and thoughts on Foot.

          I think I'm correct about Ingrams but am sure one of the other regular contributors will put me right if not. My understanding is that he was a guest presenter on a radio (Radio 4?) programme at the end of 2010/start of 2011 and used it to promote a further intended appeal for Hanratty which was then taken up by the media. What or who (Bindman?) prompted Ingrams to do this, I don't know although I have read suggestions he was more concerned for the reputation of Foot than Hanratty. As we all well know, no appeal was forthcoming and I can't see how another one can ever be forthcoming without new and direct evidence.

          Two main reasons why I consider Hanratty got a raw deal at the 2002 Appeal.

          Firstly, the DNA evidence. I fully accept this is damaging to Hanratty and his supporters (who originally championed its use) but I don't necessarily regard it as clear cut as the Court did. I'll shortly repost my particular thoughts and concerns on this. That earlier post also confirms my own view that whilst Hanratty was guilty of the A6 crimes, that guilt was not fairly and reasonably proven from a legal perspective. Interestingly or not, that view seems pretty unique here in respect of Hanratty although commonplace in discussions concerning William Herbert Wallace.

          Secondly, the Court in 2002 certainly went some way - and too far imo - to give the benefit of the doubt to Acott. As regards avoiding difficult questions and preserving his reputation, death was shown to have been a good career move for Acott. I'll try to post some illustration and detail of this in the next day or so. This 2002 approach contrasts markedly with the same Court a year later (but, of course, with different individual judges) who upheld the posthumous appeals of George Kelly and Charles Connolly for the Cameo Murders when they were so critical of DI Herbert Balmer. Again imo, that was a remarkably fair judgement and all the more surprising in respect of Connolly who had pleaded guilty to charges of robbery and conspiracy at his retrial.

          Incidentally, Ruth Ellis' late sister Muriel lived near me in her later years and I met her briefly in 2004. She came across as unwell at the time and so I thought it only fair not to mention Ruth despite a perhaps morbid wish to do so.

          Best regards,
          OneRound



          Comment


          • Originally posted by OneRound View Post

            Just a few comments now about the DNA.

            Matters are set out by the Court of Appeal in paras 106 to 128 of their 2002 judgement (link in Caz's post #4282 above).

            For any newcomers to this thread (and it's great there are some), it's only right to flag from outset that Hanratty's family and legal team were originally very keen to use DNA findings in an attempt to establish his innocence. However, they challenged its integrity once the findings pointed more towards his guilt.

            It is also only right to declare up front that I am far more a scientific numbskull than an eminent scientist, of whom several convinced the Court of Appeal of his guilt. I am no position to say anyone was wrong but I do feel aspects of this part of the Court's judgement raise queries.

            Main aspects for me are as below:

            1. As well as Hanratty's DNA (he was a blood group O secretor), the Court also refer to DNA from the semen of an AB blood group secretor being shown to be on the fragment of Valerie Storie's knickers and ''attribute'' that to her lover Michael Gregsten. The Court could of course be right there but, nonetheless, I feel the ''presumption'' (another term used by the Court) should have been thoroughly checked. After all, the Court insisted on Hanratty's body being exhumed to check on the accuracy of findings for him. The contrast in approach between the two DNA findings is massive and to my mind just as much surprising. If the AB DNA had been cross-checked to Gregsten and found not to be his, that would have invalidated the DNA evidence totally. Admittedly, that is a big ''if''. However, in my opinion, the Court should have been relying on a thorough cross-check and not a ''presumption''.

            Something else which increases my unease in this regard relates to when Gregsten last had sex with Ms Storie. I believe she said this was several days before the murder. If that's right, it would seem to lessen the likelihood of it being his AB semen on the knickers. Odd.

            [I appreciate Del has strong views about the reported AB findings. My comments stem from the Court's judgement.]

            2. The Court regarded it as very damning for Hanratty that only his and Valerie Storie's DNA plus that ''attributed'' to Gregsten were located on the knicker fragment tested in 1997. The Court effectively took the view that if Hanratty's DNA got there through contamination and he was not the rapist, the DNA of another male (ie the rapist) would have had to have been there as well. As there wasn't, that meant Hanratty had to be the rapist. I follow the logic. However, what was being checked was only ''a fragment'' which had been cut away from the knickers for basic tests thirty-six years earlier following the crime and then reduced further in 1995 when another part was removed for initial and unsuccessful DNA testing. Could the rapist's DNA have been on the part that was removed in 1995 and destroyed when unsuccessfully tested? I obviously don't know but feel it's a fair question.

            3. At the 2002 appeal, Hanratty's legal team argued that the knicker fragment might have been contaminated as a result of spillage from a broken vial, containing a liquidised sample from Hanratty, stored and found in an envelope alongside it. A boffin with thirty years' experience told the Court he had never come across a vial containing contents to be stored in this way and, whilst acknowledging their own lack of scientific experience, the Court commented that it would seem strange to do so. Fair enough. However, wouldn't it have been even more strange to store an empty vial in this way?

            4. A fair bit of weight appears to have been given by the Court to the DNA findings of Hanratty and Valerie showing a ''typical distribution'' consistent with them having had sex. That does seem pretty damning. I would just like it to have been clarified whether the distribution would have definitely been different if Hanratty's DNA was as a result of contamination.

            5. Discussion about the DNA here usually involves the knicker fragment and/or the hanky. Understandably so. However, a third item was also submitted for DNA testing. This was one of Valerie Storie's slips upon which semen was identified immediately after the crime. No result was found from this DNA testing. Given Hanratty's DNA was readily identified on the knicker fragment, why didn't it show up on the slip? As I say, I'm no scientist but might it suggest the DNA on the knicker fragment got there through different means (ie contamination)?

            Having assessed the scientific evidence, the Court concluded that the possibility of contamination of the knicker fragment or the hanky was ''fanciful'' and of both ''beyond belief''. However, if you include the slip, only 2 of the 3 items tested are indicators of Hanratty's guilt. If you then doubt the knicker fragment (see particularly points 1 and 3 above re the unestablished AB finding and broken vial), that only leaves the hanky.

            6. The hanky. Caz's favourite. Again understandably so. That is very damning. Unless you buy into ideas of police corruption and manipulation of exhibits and evidence, the DNA findings prove that the hanky wrapped around the murder weapon was Hanratty's. Although that leaves extremely serious questions to be answered by Hanratty's remaining supporters, it does not actually prove he fired the gun that killed Gregsten, raped Valerie Storie or even hid the gun and hanky where it was found. We do know others had access to his laundry.


            Let me make very clear that none of the above points go any way to suggesting innocence on the part of James Hanratty, let alone proving it which was the aim of those who first campaigned for DNA use. I'm actually as sure as I can be taking everything in the round that Hanratty was guilty. I'm just not as convinced as some that his guilt was proved fairly at trial or that the DNA evidence almost forty years later (inevitably without the safeguards being taken which are now so mandatory) was so unanswerably conclusive.

            If things had been very different in a make believe legal world - in particular, Hanratty not being executed and still being alive, the appeal of 2002 being heard many years earlier but with DNA being used years earlier than it was and able to be brought to the appeal - I would have thought it fair and just for Hanratty to have been granted a retrial.

            Obviously that could not happen and didn't. I therefore remain uncomfortable that a man - even though I consider him guilty - on trial for his life did not get a fair hearing. This though is where the hypocrite in me comes out. If Michael Gregsten or Valerie Storie had been my son or daughter, hangman Harry Allen could have got any required help from me in an instant.

            With apologies for the length and best regards,

            OneRound
            Hi again Graham and all - this is my earlier post raising issues in respect of the DNA.

            Best regards,
            OneRound

            Comment


            • Some photos I have not seen before ...

              - Valerie Storie before it all, when she could stand.

              - Aerial view of the murder scene. You can see from this angle how Valerie knew the car was driven away southbound; had it turned north it would have gone back past her.

              - Meike Dalal apparently glad that Alphon has been freed.

              - Jean Justice claiming he found the parking meter under his bed.

              - Anne Pryce who served at the Rehearsal Club and signed the car guarantee.

              - Philip Taylor the juror who was dismissed.

              - Florence France and her brother; is this the James Russell that Michael suspected was involved?

              - Grace Jones and a man I assume to be her husband. How Ingledene looked at the time with the name in big letters above the door. Williams, Such and Sayle who did stay there that week.

              - In Blackpool ... Jim sees the programme at the Queen's Theatre, then he is booked into Hope House by landlady Jean Shellito, then is served by Bernard Daley in the Stevonia.
              Last edited by NickB; 06-03-2020, 06:37 PM.

              Comment


              • NickB,

                You must be a private detective to have sourced all these photos. They are all very interesting and the one of Valerie Storie taking part in a car rally is very poignant.
                Two photos for me required more explanation. That is Anne Price who signed the guarantee, What guarantee?

                And James Russell brother of Florence. What relation was Florence to Dixie France? And why did Michael Hanratty think Russell was involved?

                Comment


                • Hanratty only paid a deposit on his car, the bulk of the cost was paid for by a finance agreement which required two guarantors. France says he refused to be one but Anderson and Pryce agreed.

                  James Russell was Dixie's brother-in-law. See recent post by Sherlock for Michael's feelings about the Russells (5954).

                  The more I think about it the less likely it seems that it is James Russell in the photo, probably Dixie's sister and her brother. Perhaps someone can provide more info.
                  Last edited by NickB; 06-03-2020, 08:28 PM.

                  Comment


                  • Well done, Nick.

                    An excellent find! I've seen that photo of Valerie before, but can't recall where. Maybe on an early TV doc of the case, don't know. The aerial photo (or one very similar) is in Foot's book. Meike Dalal was a lovely lady, wasn't she?

                    Jean Justice and the Case of the Missing Parking Meter was reported in some papers at the time, or so I'm told. The sort of daft prank a man like him would get up to. He was an oddball if ever there was one, probably borderline insane, but never a dull moment when he was around. I do wonder what his precise interest in the A6 Case was, though. His partner Jeremy Fox was much more laid back about it, and I wonder if he was totally certain about Hanratty being innocent.

                    The dismissal of the jurist who fainted at the sight of blood reminds me of the time I was on jury-service in 1972, a murder-case in the Midlands. There were two or three ladies on the jury, and when the photos of the victim were passed across one of them became very distressed, causing the Judge to halt proceedings for a while to enable her to recover.

                    Comparing the 'Florence' France in your photo with that of Charlotte France in Foot's book, I would have to say they are photos of the same person, that is, Charlotte.

                    Regarding Mick's suspicions about Dixie France and James Russell, as you probably know I've felt for a long time that Dixie's part in the whole saga has never been fully explained or even debated. Why were at least two of his suicide notes confiscated and never published? Dixie knew of Hanratty's liking of the back seat of buses to dispose of unwanted items...was it Dixie who put the gun there in order to ensure Hanratty was incriminated? Which of course would mean that Hanratty gave the gun - or returned it - to Dixie after the murder. Was it Dixie who supplied the gun in the first place? Gut feelings suggest that it very likely was.

                    One Round,

                    thanks for your note about Richard Ingrams and the 2011 planned Appeal. As I stated, I was not aware of this. But I recall that the relationship between Ingrams and Foot at Private Eye were not always mellow, and I believe that another commentator suggested that Ingrams was not too happy with Foot's promotion of International Socialism in the pages of the Eye.

                    Cobalt,

                    I hear what you say re: Foot's background and his politics. However, a fine illustration of what the voting public thought about his politics, and what he and they could offer, can be seen in the result of the 1977 Birmingham Stechford by-election, when he polled less that 300 votes, around 1% of the vote. But that aside, he was a very good investigative journalist without any doubt. I still rate his book the best of the popular publications on the A6, and he was at least honest enough to admit that he had developed certain doubts about the case.


                    Graham




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

                    Comment


                    • If Florence = Charlotte then maybe that is James Russell.

                      Paul Foot fared better in the year of the appeal, in October 2002, when he got 12.72% standing for Mayor of Hackney!

                      Comment


                      • Hi OR,

                        ref: your Post 6259. With regard to the fairness or otherwise of Hanratty's trial, I'm not the only one who's suggested that had the trial been in a Scottish court, the verdict may well have been 'not proven'. Which is not to say that I believe he was innocent. However, I believe the turning-point in the proceedings were when he changed his alibi - that, certainly as far as the jury was concerned, did it. Had he stuck to his Liverpool version, then I think it may well have been quite difficult for the prosecution to prove to the jury that he wasn't there. Which would, I feel, have instantly put a degree of doubt in the minds of the jury. Sherrard couldn't prevent Hanratty from changing his alibi, and doubtless earnestly counselled him not to. It's significant that this ploy was known in 1961 as an ambush alibi, and has long been disallowed in UK courts.

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

                        Comment


                        • Hi folks and maybe Graham in particular,

                          Yep, cracking photos - great job, Nick. I too was very taken by the ones of Valerie and Meike Dalal. I can't recall where I got this from but believe Meike Dalal was still alive as of a couple of years ago.

                          Just want to ask a bit about the juror please. How far advanced was the trial when he bailed? Also - looking to Graham although not exclusively - did this attract public criticism at the time? In an age where male emotions and feelings were not at the fore, I'm wondering if there was a reaction of ''do your duty, man and don't be so lily livered''? Surely anyway, he should have declared his concerns at outset?

                          The juror dropping out was something else which may have been unfortunate for Hanratty. As unanimous verdicts were then required, the greater the number of jurors, the greater the chances one of them disagreeing. Whilst some will understandably claim Hanratty deserved no luck, that certainly seems to be what happened as the case against him proceeded.

                          Best regards,
                          OneRound

                          Comment


                          • 'By the start of the second day, it was clear that the distressed juror would be able to hearken to the evidence no longer.' - Woff page 176.

                            Comment


                            • Woffo goes on to say:

                              The 1925 Criminal Justice Act allows a trial, where any jury-member has to be discharged because of illness, to be continued with eleven, ot even ten, members. In this case, Justice Gorman said that the man concerned should be relieved 'without the slightest criticism of the court.

                              There you have it. Maybe this was prejudicial to the outcome, but impossible to say for sure. Regarding the case I was on, the lady who felt ill when she saw the photos of the murder victim, recovered sufficiently to carry on after a period of recovery in the jury room. The Judge was most concerned that she felt well enough to continue; which she did. In any case, after the jury retired, an initial poll was taken, and the verdict of 'Guilty' was unanimous. And didn't change.

                              Fairly horrible though that case was, it was interesting (and slightly surprising) to see the Law in action at first hand.

                              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
                                Woffo goes on to say:

                                The 1925 Criminal Justice Act allows a trial, where any jury-member has to be discharged because of illness, to be continued with eleven, ot even ten, members. In this case, Justice Gorman said that the man concerned should be relieved 'without the slightest criticism of the court.

                                There you have it. Maybe this was prejudicial to the outcome, but impossible to say for sure. ...

                                Graham
                                Thanks, Graham and you earlier, Nick.

                                In line with Graham's post, it's impossible to say whether twelve jurors would have made any difference to Hanratty. Furthermore, the legislation allowed for such a happening. Nonetheless, I would have been far less relaxed about it than Justice Gorman appeared to be. It's not as if the juror concerned was taken ill during the trial. He was a complete wuss and only belatedly made that known. He should have made that clear before the trial got underway. If I had been the judge, I would have looked to come up with some excuse to give the bailing juror a night in the cells before discharging him.

                                Best regards,
                                OneRound

                                Comment

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