Guildford Four man 'faced police hate': Officers reduced Paul Hill 'to a wreck', appeal court told
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Thursday 24 February 1994
Outlining Hill's appeal against conviction for the murder of Brian Shaw, a former soldier, Lord Gifford QC, said Hill had been arrested on 28 November 1974 and taken to Guildford police station. What happened during the next 24 hours continued to be the subject of bitter dispute.
Hill had testified in two trials that he was subjected to assaults, threats, acts of intimidation and deprivation of food and sleep. By the afternoon of 29 November he had been reduced to 'such a wreck' that he was ready to agree to any suggestions or allegations put to him by police officers.
He had made allegations against detectives from Surrey police who had questioned him, and uniformed officers who had been responsible for his custody in the cells. There had been 'an atmosphere of hate and a culture of indiscipline' in the station, he said. However, the police had testified that nothing improper was done by any of them.
On the afternoon of 29 November, he was interviewed in his cell by two detectives from the Royal Ulster Constabulary and afterwards made a detailed written statement of a full confession to the Shaw murder.
Lord Gifford said Hill did not make any direct allegations of assault or threat or intimidation against the RUC officers. His case was that he was agreeing to details of the crime which were being put to him in leading questions, and accepting the truth of allegations made against him.
The interview with the RUC lasted one-and-a-half hours. He was then interviewed by Surrey detectives and, according to them, made admissions about involvement in the Guildford pub bombing of October 1974. He later implicated himself in the Woolwich pub bombing a month later.
At the Guildford Four trial a number of interviews were said to have been recorded by an officer taking a contemporaneous note. But in most of these cases they could now establish the overwhelming probability that the version put forward at the trial by interviewing officers was in fact a false version made up at a later stage in order to mislead the court.
Lord Gifford said only 3 out of 13 Surrey officers 'escape unscathed' after an investigation by Avon and Somerset Police into the conduct of the case. There was evidence that 10 were guilty of, or party to, serious impropriety.
He would be submitting that the effect of that extent of malpractice, running through so many officers involved in the same investigation, must lead the court to conclude that the integrity of the English officers was now undermined. If 10 out of 13 officers were shown to be guilty of offences, one could not automatically say their impropriety had an effect on the remaining 3, but this issue had to be examined.
Lord Gifford said it had to be underlined that the prosecution evidence in the Shaw case consisted entirely of the statements Hill had signed, and no other evidence was before the court.
The hearing continues.
Trial leads to error, page 20
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