A prison escape as mystery story: missing video tapes... the death of a witness... warders falling out... and now, charges of violent behaviour
The pictures look eerily familiar. Haunted eyes stare from a bruised and battered face set in an expression of desolation. Congealed blood and sutures speak of heavy impacts, of moments of extreme violence. The Birmingham Six looked like this after their arrest in 1974.

These pictures, of Andrew Russell, 36, and Danny McNamee, 34, were taken by the police on 13 September 1994, four days after the Whitemoor breakout. They illustrate what the police, the Prison Service and the Prison Officers' Association have denied; that the men were subjected to violence after recapture.

Unlike the Birmingham Six, whose innocence was finally proved, few would argue that at least five of the Whitemoor six are guilty, and four have been convicted of IRA crimes, although the sixth man, Danny McNamee, has always protested his innocence of the 1982 Hyde Park bombing, and his supporters have compelling evidence to back up his claims. For the others, sympathy is hard to find.

Assaulting prisoners is a criminal offence, however; so is hiding evidence; so is covering up the truth, but that is what lawyers for the men believe has happened. Among the articles that went missing - besides the video recording of the wire being cut before the escape, and, as we reveal below, vital evidence in Category A prisoners' log books, is a second tape which is believed to show what happened to McNamee immediately after his capture.

But the photographs above, and a report by Dr Peter Jerreat, the senior forensic medical examiner for the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police, were in the possession of Cambridgeshire Police when they examined the men's claims of assault. Yet last week the force said there was insufficient evidence for charges to be brought. The Crown Prosecution Service was passed a file by the police but decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

Dr Jerreat's examination of Russell on 14 September 1994 found 23 separate injuries to his mouth, jaw, arm, nose, eye, and shoulder. His report concludes: "There are several areas of grazing which had scabbed on the face and several areas of bruising. These injuries were consistent with being caused by punches and/or kicks.

"Some of the grazes could have been caused by contact with a rough surface if the face or head were forced into the surface whilst lying on the ground. There were other areas of bruising that could have been caused by fist or shod foot type blows."

One face wound was 11cm long and 5cm wide and extended from the right eye, which had haemorrhaged, across the nose and on to the cheek. In a subsequent statement, Russell said that one prison officer sat on his back and arms and pulled back his head by the hair while another kicked him in the face. The beating, he alleged, took place in a cell known as the Strongbox.

Dr Jerreat's examination of McNamee took in two stitched head wounds and 19 other injuries from his calf to the top of his head. His report concluded: "There were multiple sites of bruising, grazing, scabbed and sutured wounds. These were consistent with blunt impacts by objects. The sutured areas could have been the result of a tuncheon-type blow or shod foot."

Superintendent Tony Rogers, who headed the breakout inquiry, offers a different explanation: "There are many aspects of their injuries that could have been caused by means other than the allegations of assault," he said. "They were shinning down ropes and climbing through fences and they were handcuffed after their arrest."

John Savage, chairman of the Whitemoor Board of Visitors, supports Supt Rogers insisting independent visitors were at the prison 45 minutes after the breakout. "Russell fell from the top of the wall," he said. "That's about 25 feet. I can assure you that none of those men were beaten. We were there the whole time and saw nothing untoward. My colleagues and I subsequently spent time alone with the men but none of them said anything about being maltreated."

However, Mr Savage knew nothing about Dr Jerreat's examination or findings until we contacted him last week, and he was unable to explain why it should say nothing about Russell's injuries being consistent with a fall. Asked why such a report should have been withheld from him, Mr Savage was unable to answer - one more puzzle to add to the list of unanswered questions about the Whitemoor jail escape.

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