In February 1988, a young prostitute was murdered in Cardiff; the resulting police investigation led to one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in the UK in recent times.
Twenty years ago, the Panorama team produced a documentary about the murder of the twenty year old prostitute Lynette White. Five men were charged with the crime, and three were convicted.
Yusef Abdullahi, Tony Paris and Steve Miller (not theSteve Miller), were each given the mandatory life sentence. Because of serious doubts about the case, a campaign was launched for The Cardiff Three, and in December 1992, their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal).
An extensive reinvestigation based on forensic evidence led to the arrest of Jeffrey Gafoor, who pleaded guilty to murder at Cardiff Crown Court on July 4, 2003.
The murder of Lynette White was one of extreme savagery; among other things, her head was all but severed. There is a lot to his story, not the least being the way the police questioned Miller, who is said by his solicitor to have a low IQ. According to the programme, he denied any involvement in the murder of Lynette White no less than three hundred times, then confessed. It remains to be seen why one confession outweighs three hundred denials, especially when he was fed details about the murder.
After the conviction of Gafoor, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (yeah, right) ordered an investigation into the way the police had behaved. And this investigation was carried out not only by South Wales Police, but by at least one officer who should not have been allowed near the case.
Three of the original witnesses - including two prostitutes - were charged with perjury. All three pleaded guilty in 2008. In sentencing them, the trial judge stated clearly that they had been pressurised into changing their stories by the original murder investigation team. Then it was the turn of the police to stand trial; no less than thirteen of them and two civilian defendants were arrested.
Although the investigation into the alleged corruption was handled efficiently and methodically, when the trial process began, the case was mishandled (read sabotaged) in line with the unwritten rule of the privilege money can't buy. The pretext in this case was that some essential documents had been inadvertently destroyed. Then, seven weeks after the eight indicted defendants had been formally cleared, the missing documents turned up.
The IPCC has now ordered an investigation into its own investigation - no that is not a joke - but it looks like something may be done at a higher level, at least to prevent this sort of nonsense happening again.
For those who can receive it, Justice Denied: The Greatest Scandal? is currently on iplayer, otherwise, watch out for it in YouTube.