Jubilation in court as care workers freed
ON FRIDAY 14 MARCH, in the solemn surroundings of the High Court in London, the friends and supporters of two Merseyside care workers rose to their feet to cheer and applaud as Mr Justice Kennedy announced that the men's convictions were unsafe. The standing ovation continued for almost a minute in the packed court, although it was more than an hour before the two men, Basil Williams-Rigby and Mike Lawson, emerged downstairs for a tearful reunion with their family and friends
Saturday's papers almost all carried news stories about the case. Bob Woffinden's report appeared in the Guardian while Rosie Waterhouse covered the case in two stories for the the Telegraph (1) and (2), the latter giving a disturbing insight into the effect of these wrongful convictions on the men's families. Robert Verkaik, who wrote a piece anticipating
My feeling is one of exhilaration. It has been
three years and seven months. I have counted the days. Our long march for
freedom has finished. But we will be starting another long march to stop others
being caught up by similar trawling operations. There are hundreds of innocent
people in prison because of it. This method can never be justified.
Reproduced below is the text of the trawling letter sent out by Merseyside Police in September 1997 which helped to snare David Jones, Mike Lawson and Basil Williams-Rigby in a web of false allegations:
I am the senior investigating officer of the above operation which is currently investigating allegations of child abuse reported to have taken place within a number of residential establishments in the Merseyside area.
I am aware from records provided to me that in times past you have been a resident at XXXX School in XXXX, whilst in the care of a local authority. I am concerned that there is a possibility that such abuse may have taken place whilst you were in residence there.
If you have any information or if we can help with any complaint you may have, please respond by completing and returning the attached slip using the enclosed pre-paid envelope or by contacting a member of my staff using the above telephone number.
MAY I TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY OF ASSURING YOU THAT ANY INFORMATION GIVEN OR COMPLAINT MADE WILL BE TREATED IN THE STRICTEST CONFIDENCE.
Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
J. H. Robbins, Detective Superintendent