Prosecutor says he lied about Polanski's trial

Film director's appeal over conviction may be put in jeopardy by revelation

If Roman Polanski has been sitting in a Swiss prison cell consoling himself with the thought that extradition to the US might lead to his child sex case being swiftly thrown out, he may be forced to think again.

The film director's intended appeal against his conviction has been dealt a serious blow, after one of the lawyers who had previously admitted being involved in misconduct during the 1977 trial suddenly decided to change his story.

David Wells, the prosecutor who last year told an HBO documentary that he colluded with Mr Polanski's judge to increase his jail sentence, has now called that claim a complete fabrication. "I'm a guy who cuts to the chase," he said yesterday. "I lied."

He'd been persuaded to embellish his story after the makers of the documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired – which was co-produced by the BBC and won an Emmy for director Marina Zenovich – said it would only be shown in France. "I know I shouldn't have done it, but I did," admitted Mr Wells. "The director told me it would never air in the States. I thought it made a better story if I said I'd told the judge what to do," he told legal journalist Marcia Clark.

The revelation may jeopardise Mr Polanski's planned defence. When the director appealed against his conviction earlier this year, Mr Wells's comments helped convince a Los Angeles judge that there was evidence of "substantial misconduct" in his trial.

During the 1977 case, Mr Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with an underage girl, following a plea bargain intended to prevent his victim, a 13-year-old budding model called Samantha Geimer, from having to give evidence.

Mr Polanski was sentenced to 90 days of psychiatric evaluation prior to sentencing. However, he served just 42, before fleeing to France, after hearing that his judge, the late Laurence Rittenband, was planning to renege on the plea bargain and send him back to prison.

Last year's HBO documentary alleged that Judge Rittenband, who died in 1993, was motivated by anti-Semitism in his treatment of Mr Polanski, revealing that he was a member of a county club which barred Jews. The film also saw Mr Polanski's defence lawyer, Douglas Dalton, and one of his prosecutors, Roger Gunson, allege misconduct by the judge. Their criticisms of the trial still stand. However without the support of Mr Wells, Mr Polanski's attempt to secure a "mistrial" verdict will be substantially trickier.

Should the US succeed in securing his extradition, the Oscar-winning director does have another legal option: he could withdraw his guilty plea and go for a jury trial on all of the crimes he was originally charged with, hoping that the passage of time will make it harder to prove his guilt.

That would represent a huge gamble. If convicted, Mr Polanski, 76, could spend the rest of his life in prison. Even if acquitted, he's likely to remain in custody throughout the lengthy trial: given his previous form, it would take a bold judge to grant him bail.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Life and Style
The spring/summer 2015 Louis Vuitton show for Paris Fashion Week
fashion
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

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?