Oliver Campbell - Still fighting for justice
Teresa MacKay, Ipswich Socialist Party
30 years since the unjust conviction of Oliver Campbell, campaigners are still fighting for justice. Nearly 85,000 people have signed a petition calling for a fresh appeal into Oliver Campbell's conviction of the murder of a shopkeeper in east London in 1991.
Oliver spent 11 years in various prisons after 'confessing' to the murder in a police interview. The last two years of his sentence were in Hollesley Bay, Suffolk. He has lived and worked in the county since his release in November 2002, just months after the 'Rough Justice' documentary exposed the injustice he had suffered.
The jury never heard police evidence that his co-defendant named another man as the gunman shortly after being charged. The gunman was said to be 5'10'' whereas Oliver is 6'3''.
Oliver has learning difficulties and the mental age of a nine-year-old as a result of a brain injury when he was a baby. The police did not take this into consideration and behaved very aggressively towards him during questioning. This was initially carried out in the absence of a solicitor and an appropriate adult. If he were on trial now he would probably have an intermediary as there is now legislation to protect people like Oliver.
Anyone who knows Oliver recognises that he is incapable of committing any crime, let alone one as serious as this, as he is kind and helpful - he is known as the 'gentle giant.' He is still on licence which means he cannot travel abroad and is subjected to closer monitoring by police.
He said in an interview with a local newspaper: "I went into prison innocent; I came out innocent, and I've been innocent all the way through".
He said the conviction "has messed up my life for a long time. It takes up your life for a lifetime. I could've had a full-time job, a relationship, had kids, a family life and travelled the world. I've lost all that.
"There are lots of people who have looked at my case and have said I shouldn't have been convicted. In my view this is a complete miscarriage of justice.
"Anyone who worked in the prisons where I was knew that I was innocent."
His solicitor, Glyn Maddocks, and barrister, Michael Birnbaum QC, have once again forwarded a detailed appeal to the Criminal Cases Review Commission urging them to refer it to the Court of Appeal as they felt that "much of the police questioning was misleading and unfair." There is an Early Day Motion backing Oliver's campaign.
Enough is enough. After 30 years, Oliver's name must be cleared sooner rather than later!
In The Socialist 14 October 2020:
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