Howard refuses Silcott appeal request

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(First Edition)

AN APPLICATION by Winston Silcott - who was cleared of the murder of PC Keith Blakelock - for his conviction for a 1984 killing to be referred to the Court of Appeal has been rejected by Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, writes Terry Kirby. The decision, announced yesterday, comes 18 months after the submission from Silcott's lawyers to the Home Office.

In 1991, Silcott's conviction for the murder of PC Blakelock during the Broadwater Farm riots in north London in 1985 was quashed by the Court of Appeal after doubts were cast on the reliability of his alleged confession. At the time of the riots, Silcott was on remand for the murder of Anthony Smith, a boxer whom he stabbed at a party in 1984. He was convicted before the Blakelock trial. According to Silcott's lawyers, the new dossier in the Smith case included a statement from a witness which, along with other evidence, showed that Silcott had acted in reasonable self-defence.

A Home Office spokesman said that Mr Howard had taken those matters into account. In a statement from Swaleside prison, Kent, Silcott said yesterday: 'I cannot say I am surprised given the present Home Secretary and the climate in the criminal justice system. Whatever matters we put forward would have been rejected.'

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