Letter: Mistake that hanged Hanratty

Sir: Your report on the Hanratty case (27 January) mentioned that the only eye-witness to the crime, Valerie Storie, "failed to pick him out on the first identity parade". The reality was worse than that: James Hanratty did not take part in the first ID parade, and Miss Storie picked out someone wholly unconnected with the case.

Even in those days witnesses were asked to be certain before making any identification. The scale of the mistake was underlined during Hanratty's trial when Mr Justice Gorman told jurors that the man wrongly identified might have faced grave consequences had he not had a sound alibi. Miss Storie could hardly have given a more convincing demonstration of her unreliability, yet was still allowed to go on to pick out Hanratty from a later line-up, her identification becoming what the judge called the linchpin of the prosecution case.

PETER KIRKER

Bilsthorpe, Nottinghamshire

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