Letter: What jailed an editor

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The Independent Online
Sir: M. A. Winterton (Letters, 15 June) is not quite right in her recollection. Sylvester Bolam, the editor of the Daily Mirror who was jailed for three months by the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Goddard, had printed a story not about the sexual psychopath Neville Heath, who had been tried and executed in 1946, but about John Haigh, the so- called 'acid bath' murderer who was tried and executed in 1949.

Haigh had made a statement in which he claimed to have drunk the blood of his victims, and a somewhat lurid account of this vampire- like activity appeared in the paper, though without mentioning the name of the accused.

Goddard, in characteristically irascible fashion, not only imprisoned the editor but fined the newspaper pounds 10,000 - a huge sum in those days - and, for good measure, made an order for costs. Given that the trial judge had been the no less choleric Sir Travers Humphreys, then in his 83rd year, there is some reason to suppose that Goddard's actions may have given vicarious expression to the irritation of his brother judge.

Yours truly


Winchester, Hampshire

16 June