Prisoner in new move to secure appeal: Man jailed for murder claims stolen files cast fresh doubt on conviction

ONE OF Britain's longest serving prisoners alleges that file documents have been stolen from the Director of Public Prosecutions' Office and passed to him in an attempt to help prove his innocence.

Yesterday a spokeswoman for the DPP said: 'We have no reason to believe that anything has been stolen from our files.' However, to support his claim, and risking a police inquiry into the alleged theft, Paul Cleeland - who has served more than 20 years for a murder he says he did not commit - produced part of the transcript of his 1973 trial. Last year, Home Office officials told the High Court that a transcript, which Cleeland had argued in judicial review proceedings might support his claim of innocence, could not be found.

From Wormwood Scrubs prison, Cleeland, now 50, alleged that these documents demonstrated that the evidence to the court was false. He further claimed that as a result of the theft he now has a copy of at least one statement which was not made available at his trial and which he argues may have helped his defence.

Cleeland was jailed, after a retrial, for the shotgun murder of a friend and business associate, Terry Clarke. He has always maintained that as a known criminal, he was framed for what was a gang killing over drugs. A series of anomalies in the case have long aroused concern and there have been many attempts by MPs to get the case reopened:

The murder was witnessed by Mr Clarke's wife, who would have recognised Cleeland.

The dead man's wounds were not consistent with the alleged murder weapon.

Cleeland's prison records at Wandsworth jail, London, were altered to show that he had been visited by a man called Nash. Cleeland says he never met Nash and claims it was a cynical move to deprive him of the chance of independent evidence which contradicted alleged confession evidence. The Home Office later admitted the alteration of prison records was a 'clerical error'.

The prosecution's expert witness, John McCafferty, who gave evidence about the murder weapon, had no formal qualifications in forensic chemistry.

An inquiry into Cleeland's allegation of perjury against police was never made public.

White powder found at the murder scene in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, was not analysed. Cleeland argues a test would have supported his claim that it was a drugs-related killing.

MPs and Baroness (Shirley) Williams, a former Home Office minister, have fought for years to have his case reopened. Television and newspapers have also raised questions about the case.

Last month, however, Cleeland was informed that he had been turned down for parole on licence and would not be considered again until March 1996.

Had the decision been taken after yesterday, when the rules governing detention of life sentence prisoners changed, the Home Office would have been obliged to tell him the reasons for his continued detention.

As it is, he cannot know. But one major factor is almost certainly his protestation of innocence. A major criticism of the licence parole system is that those who maintain their innocence do not qualify for early parole because they have 'failed to face up to their crime'.

In the mid-1980s, the Home Office made it clear that he would be released on licence if he accepted his guilt. He refused. 'I'll rot in here,' he said, 'rather than have anything to do with their damn licence, because I'm innocent. I won't give up until it comes out that I never had a fair trial.'

Cleeland alleges the Home Office wants to avoid a reference back to the Court of Appeal for fear that proving his innocence would cast doubts on the scientific evidence given by Mr McCafferty. That, he says, could lead to a review of the many other notorious cases in which he was involved, including the Hanratty murder trial in 1962.

Yesterday, a Home Office spokeswoman said: 'If Mr Cleeland has material which has not been seen by the Home Office before, which he thinks may have some significance regarding the safety of his conviction, then he should let us see it.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee