SILCOTT, WINSTON & TOTTENHAM 3 & BROADWATER FARM RIOTS: Paul Foot - The Observer online - BBC online - Crimes that Shook Britain TV -
16,651. The Broadwater Farm case was worse than all of these. At least, in the Birmingham case, an explosives test (recently discredited) had proved positive on two of the six men’s hands. At least in the Guildford case one of the defendants had apparently voluntarily, spilled out the names of the other people who later confessed. At least, in the Bridgewater case one confession led to another, and back to the first one again.
The importance of the Blakelock case is that police now know that if the press is on their side and if the crime is dramatic enough, they can get a conviction just by picking on anyone in the street and taking notes of a conversation which can be construed as a confession or a part-confession. It is the random nature of the arrests of all six people who allegedly ‘confessed’ to the Blakelock killing which has the most chilling consequences.
The power and confidence of the police has increased hugely since the case. Until the Blakelock case, a jury would have insisted on some corroboration before sentencing anyone effectively to life in prison. Now that a jury has so obliged the police, the police have responded with a renewed public relations campaign to take away the powers of the jury. (Miscarriages of Justice: Broadwater Farm Riots & Gangstas: London North & Murder) Paul Foot, Confessions & Repressions, 1987
16,652. ‘They created Winston Silcott, the beast of Broadwater Farm. And they won’t let this creation lie down and die.’ It was a defining moment of the Eighties – the brutal murder of PC Keith Blakelock during the Tottenham riots. For Winston Silcott, jailed for the killing but cleared on appeal, the story goes on. In a revealing interview, he tells David Rose about life in prison, his fight to clear his name – and what happened on the night of 6 October 1985.
‘I’m not free,’ says Winston Silcott. ‘I might be standing here posing for your photographer. But in the minds of so many, the association just goes on - Winston Silcott and Keith Blakelock.’ He twists the brim of his baseball cap against the winter sun, then unexpectedly smiles. ‘An ordeal like mine either makes you or breaks you. They tried to crush me, but I wasn’t having it. Yet sometimes I chuckle to myself. There’s just me and this huge system, and over the years, I’ve got it in disarray.’
It is 17 years since Silcott, now 44, sat with five other men in the dock at the Old Bailey accused of murdering PC Blakelock, hacked with machetes and stabbed with knives in the riot on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, north London, on 6 October 1985.
Once he had entered his plea of ‘not guilty’ Silcott did not speak, but he dominated the two-month trial that followed. Reporters who covered the case thought we saw a tall, bearded, well-built Afro-Caribbean man who always dressed immaculately. The police and prosecution urged us to believe we were looking at a monster, the ringleader of a savage mob, which had planned to sever Blakelock’s head and mount it on a pole, like a medieval trophy.
Atavistic racial imagery lay close to the surface. According to statements taken by detectives, Silcott had brandished a machete, dripping with blood, and proclaimed to cheers: ‘This is bullman’s blood.’ He had, they claimed, thrust a sword into the hands of a 13-year-old white boy, Jason Hill, and forced him, on pain of death, to slash Blakelock’s prostrate form to ‘make my mark’ and then told him: ‘You cool, man.’
In the third week of March 1987, after two months of evidence and three days' deliberation, the jury returned to court. Silcott, Engin Raghip and Mark Braithwaite, known from that day on as the Tottenham Three, were pronounced guilty. Silcott, said the judge, must serve at least 30 years: he was ‘a very vicious and evil man’. (Miscarriages of Justice: Broadwater Farm Riots & Gangstas: London North & Murder) The Observer online article David Rose 18th January 2004
16,653. For the past 17 years Winston Silcott has been an infamous figure in the media - still linked to a murder the courts now say he did not commit.
Twice convicted of murder, and cleared of one of the killings on appeal, he has long been a symbolic figure for campaigners who believe his jailing had more to do with prejudice than justice.
Silcott, 43, was released from prison on Monday.
But to this day he remains infamous for the murder he was wrongly convicted of (a white policeman), rather than the one for which he has served almost 18 years in jail (a black nightclub bouncer).
His conviction for the murder of PC Keith Blakelock was ultimately overturned by the Court of Appeal but he remained in jail for the earlier murder of Anthony Smith, an incident which he claims was self-defence. (Miscarriages of Justice: Broadwater Farm Riots & Gangstas: London North & Murder) BBC online article 20th October 2003
101,859. In 1985 the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham north London witnessed one of the worst nights of civil unrest anywhere on mainland Europe. A result of the simmering tensions between mostly black youths and members of the Metropolitan police. 101,859. In 1985 the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham north London witnessed one of the worst nights of civil unrest anywhere on mainland Europe. A result of the simmering tensions between mostly black youths and members of the Metropolitan police. (Miscarriages of Justice: Broadwater Farm Riots & Gangstas: London North & Murder) Crimes that Shook Britain: Keith Blakelock s7e4
101,860. The brutality of that night led to the horrific murder of a policeman called Keith Blakelock. It resulted in one of the most infamous police investigations in British history … a terrible miscarriage of justice. (Miscarriages of Justice: Broadwater Farm Riots & Gangstas: London North & Murder) ibid.
101,861. The discontent on Broadwater Farm was also reflected on a much wider scale with an outpouring of violence across the streets of Britain in the early Autumn of 1985. (Miscarriages of Justice: Broadwater Farm Riots & Gangstas: London North & Murder) ibid.
101,862. ‘Almost like vultures pecking at this person.’ (Miscarriages of Justice: Broadwater Farm Riots & Gangstas: London North & Murder) ibid. fellow PC
101,863. All of us were pessimistic in the light of a tidal wave of prejudicial material in the press. (Miscarriages of Justice: Broadwater Farm Riots & Gangstas: London North & Murder) ibid. Blakelock’s brief