LETTER: Fact check

Bob Woffinden
Saturday 11 March 1995 00:02

Fact check

To answer each of the points raised by Kathleen Moodie (Letters, 4 March) about the perceived inaccuracies and omissions in my article on Ian Simms, the landlord of a Lancashire pub who was jailed for the murder of Helen McCourt, with the requisite care would entail an article almost as long as the original. In my view, however, they are all unfounded.

To take just one point by way of illustration: Ms Moodie writes that the "clothes were not found on a towpath, but well away". This is incorrect. The witness who discovered the clothes testified, "I noticed boots in the middle of the path." As for the suggestion that Simms had no option but to abandon them when disturbed by an Alsatian, the scenario is mind- boggling: Simms must have been running around naked - and yet no one noticed him.

Ms Moodie writes that the most "glaring omission" was to report what happened at the leave to appeal hearing. This, however, is irrelevant. In appealing against both conviction and sentence, an appellant's counsel will routinely advance mutually contradictory arguments. It is one of the absurdities of the system.

Ms Moodie writes that Mrs McCourt cannot be at peace because the case remains unresolved. It remains unresolved because it is a demonstrable miscarriage of justice. Accordingly, it is in her interests, as much of those of Ian Simms and the people of Billinge, that this wrongful conviction is now rectified.

bob woffinden

London WC1

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