The incessant whining of Satpal Ram and his followers about the supposedly so racist criminal justice system is likely to have struck a chord with many non-whites, particularly young black men, who have been on the receiving end of what is often perceived as oppressive or bigoted policing. It would be disingenuous to suggest that the police in particular are never guilty of at times heavy-handedness, or just plain rudeness. And, in spite of us being forever reminded that we are innocent until proven guilty, and then guilty only if our guilt can be proved beyond all reasonable doubt, it is a sad fact that our prisons are full of men and women whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, to be convenient suspects, or perhaps to be fitted up, either by the real culprit, or more often by the police. The evidence for this latter claim is a long list of quashed convictions. Not infrequently people have been gaoled for at times heinous crimes when no crimes have been committed, as is evinced by the recent successful appeals of Sally Clark and Angela Cannings, who were convicted of murdering their babies principally by the now acknowledged bogus science of Professor Roy Meadows.
Racism aside, the police and the criminal justice system has a definite pecking order. Young black men who hang around on street corners are certainly at or towards the bottom of that pecking order, and a twenty year old Asian warehouseman is certainly not at the top of it. But it is simply not true that no black or Asian can ever get a fair trial in Britain. There have been countless cases over the past hundred years where non-whites have been treated fairly - some might say more than fairly - by the criminal justice system.
In October 1908, a twenty-eight year old black man named Monty Mason was acquitted of grievous bodily harm on one George Moody. The two men had been in a fight. (1)
In September 1949, an Indian pedlar named Kartar Singh was cleared of wounding and causing actual bodily harm to a woman named Norah Hogg, apparently his lover. The case was heard at the Central Criminal Court. A witness claimed to have taken a chopper from the accused but said later that he couldn’t remember if he had taken it from Singh or from Hogg. Hogg had been living with Singh at the time of the incident and had since gone back to him. The judge said that Hogg - who may have been drunk at the time of the alleged assault - appeared to be “shielding her man”. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty without retiring. (2)
In July 1962, two “coloured men” who had been convicted of assaulting a police sergeant in the execution of his duty had their convictions quashed. (3)
In 1965, a thirty year old Nigerian film technician was cleared of using insulting words likely to cause a breach of the peace at 1.30 on a Sunday morning. He had been arguing over a taxi fare; the driver called a police officer. (4)
A curious case - from Birmingham - involved the death of an undercover police officer. A black man named Anthony Francis was initially charged with murder, reduced to manslaughter, and then cleared. PC Salt tried to force his way into a blues in the small hours of an April morning. He did not identify himself as a police officer, and was ejected by Francis. There was a scuffle, and Salt died from a ruptured neck vein. (5)
There are at least three cases on record where the victim of a genuinely racially motivated attack walked away from a charge of murder after retaliating in violent fashion. One of these was particularly tragic as it resulted in the death of a totally innocent man and the near death of another.
The third of these cases - chronologically - resulted in the acquittal of one Abdul Janjirker in 2000. Cases of this nature do not generally receive wide media coverage; Janjirker’s case was reported extremely succinctly in the Asian Times. He was cleared of the murder of 17 year old Gary Allsopp. Allsopp was said to have hit him in the head with a brick, and waved a knife at him...“while shouting racist abuse” of course. (6)
Janjirker actually faced two trials. At the first trial he was cleared of murder but the jury was unable to agree on an alternative charge of manslaughter. At his second trial he was cleared of manslaughter as well, and walked free. Although this was not quite comparable with Ram’s case, Janjirker - a somewhat older man - can certainly have no complaints about British justice, although his victim’s family well might.
The first of these three cases involved a West Indian named Leon Pollard, who stood trial at Hertfordshire Assizes (7) in July 1965 for the murder of Terence Jakeman. Pollard was born in July 1936 and came to Britain from Trinidad in May 1961. On May 23, 1965 he was the victim of a gang attack by, among others, the victim. He ended up stabbing Jakeman through the heart with a knife that was never recovered. As well as a murder charge he faced two charges of wounding with intent. The distinguished QC Mr Christmas Humphreys led the prosecution. Pollard was examined by Dr Ronald Wilson the morning following the incident, by which time his left thumb had been bandaged and splinted. He was said to have had injuries which were consistent with being assaulted. (8)
Information about the case is scant, but Pollard appears to have been the victim of a gang attack - three against one, possibly more than three. One witness said seven or eight of them attacked him. Although there was a history to the case, the attack on Pollard appears to have been totally unprovoked, and there may have been something of a racial element to it as the youths concerned had referred to him as a “wog”, but one should bear in mind that this was 1965, before the current hysteria about racial epithets. (9) Pollard was of previous good character; the victim had four previous convictions, including one for ABH.
The judge appears to have been on the defendant’s side; in his summing-up he said “...a man had the right to defend himself. If a man was punched by someone he had the right to punch back. If he was a bigger man he could use a weapon - such as a stick - but he could not pick up a gun and shoot his assailant.” The jury did not hear any defence evidence, and Pollard was cleared. (10)
The second and final case to be discussed here would be remarkably similar to Ram’s case - if one were to accept Ram’s pack of lies as gospel. The incident involved a genuine Asian victim (unlike Ram), and happened in Ram’s native Birmingham some twenty years prior to the murder of Clarke Pearce. It is most doubtful if either Ram or any of his supporters were au fait with this case.
According to the statement of Liam Reno, he and his fellow Irishman Noel Deans witnessed a fight in a Birmingham park on July 22, 1965. Five or six whites and two Pakistanis were involved. One of the whites had a big stick, and it appeared to be all one-way traffic. He and Deans went to assist the Asians, and Khan stabbed them both! Reno was wounded in the stomach; Deans was stabbed through the heart. (11) The doctor who treated Liam Reno - a major in the RAMC - said his patient’s heart had stopped beating during treatment. The young Irishman was not discharged from hospital until September 11.
Khan was arrested July 28 - about the same time after the incident as was Ram after the murder of Clarke Pearce. Unlike Ram, Khan was not a British citizen; he came to Britain in March 1962; a deportation notice was served on him in September 1965. According to a police report, he gave his date of birth as both 1946 and 1939. He was said to be married with three children in Pakistan, which does rather undermine the claim that he was born in 1946! His name was given as both Manawar Khan and Munawar Khan, although this is hardly important.
A report of Khan’s trial in the Birmingham press said that he was cleared of both the murder of Noel Deans and the wounding of Liam Reno. And although convicted of manslaughter, he was given a twelve month conditional discharge. (12) Although the death of Noel Deans was - in one respect - a tragic accident, this was an incredibly lenient sentence for a court to pass on anyone who had caused the death of a totally innocent man, and the near death of another. As with the Pollard case, information about this incident is scant; the fact that both Pollard and Khan were carrying knives would certainly have counted against them because it is unlawful for an ordinary citizen to carry any sort of weapon in Britain without a damned good excuse - to lapse into the vernacular.
The Pollard and Khan cases alone destroy the myth of racist justice in Britain - whatever is meant by that ever-nebulous and increasingly boring epithet. It should be remembered that both these cases date from 1965, more than two decades before Ram stood trial for the murder of Clarke Pearce. Are we really expected to believe that racism in Britain was worse in the 1980s, 90s and now the 21st Century than it was in the 1960s? No, racism hasn’t increased, what has increased is the willingness of people to play the race card, for personal as well as for political ends.
The race card is still played incessantly in the criminal justice system, usually by the guilty in their desperate attempts to escape retribution for at times terrible crimes. The most notorious example of playing the race card remains (of course) the O.J. Simpson trial, but in Britain there have been some quite despicable attempts also, besides Ram’s.
In January 2003, a twenty-one year old black man named Clinton Noel stood trial at Kingston Crown Court for an horrific attack on 25 year old Glyn Darkin, a white man from Gloucester. The victim had both his lungs punctured, damage to his intestines, and other injuries. He told the court that one blow “nicked the casing of my heart”.
Noel’s motive for the frenzied attack was robbery, in particular stealing the victim’s mobile phone. In court, he branded Mr Darkin a racist, claiming that he, not the victim, had been attacked. (13) Fortunately, like Ram, he didn’t fool the jury, and on conviction was gaoled for (a mere) eight years.
The photograph below does not show the full extent of the victim’s injuries.
The price of a mobile phone: above, the horrific injuries inflicted on an innocent white victim
by a black mugger in a street robbery. At his trial, Clinton Noel claimed he was defending himself against racial abuse.
From the cases cited above - Sally Clark and Angela Cannings in particular - it will be seen that
injustice is an equal opportunities employer. Clark was not only white but a woman, a solicitor, and, one might suppose,
well off financially if not wealthy. But that didn’t save her from being gaoled for murdering her two sons when not only was she innocent but no crime had been committed.
The British legal system is far from perfect, and the people who run it are often not to be trusted.
But imperfect as that system may be, it is not entirely inadequate, and although the guilty may frequently walk free,
not every convict who protests his innocence is worthy of belief. British justice is indeed colour blind, but unfortunately for Ram, it is not quite dumb.
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From the cases cited above - Sally Clark and Angela Cannings in particular - it will be seen that injustice is an equal opportunities employer. Clark was not only white but a woman, a solicitor, and, one might suppose, well off financially if not wealthy. But that didn’t save her from being gaoled for murdering her two sons when not only was she innocent but no crime had been committed.
The British legal system is far from perfect, and the people who run it are often not to be trusted. But imperfect as that system may be, it is not entirely inadequate, and although the guilty may frequently walk free, not every convict who protests his innocence is worthy of belief. British justice is indeed colour blind, but unfortunately for Ram, it is not quite dumb.
To Notes And References