Praise for Silcott is rubbished by police union

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The Independent Online
A POLICE union leader has rejected claims that Winston Silcott is a "model prisoner", insisting "a leopard does not change its spots".

Silcott, whose conviction for the murder of PC Keith Blakelock during the Broadwater Farm riots in north London in 1985 was quashed, won a glowing report from probation officers and staff at Maidstone prison, Kent. But Bob Elder, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: "As far as I'm concerned they can throw away the key."

Mr Elder, who was based at Tottenham when PC Blakelock was murdered, accused Silcott of talking "out of the back of his neck". He added: "I am the only remaining officer at Tottenham who was there in 1985 and my role is now with the federation. As far as the parole board report goes, a leopard does not change its spots."

According to a Sunday newspaper, the Parole Board praises Silcott - serving life for the murder of Anthony Smith, a boxer, in 1984 - for being "extremely good in prison" and "not at all a domineering person". He is congratulated for taking part in a special youth project.

Silcott tells the newspaper a ruling by the Parole Board that he should not be moved to an open prison as a precursor to release is a "political" decision linked to alleged police pressure over the overturned Blakelock conviction.

He also rejects criticism of news that he is to receive a pounds 50,000 damages payout from the Metropolitan Police for his wrongful conviction for the Blakelock murder. "It wasn't a need for a cash settlement that made me pursue it," he said. "I wanted the police to admit they were wrong."

A Home Office spokesman refused to discuss an individual Parole Board report.