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Morning Serial; The Death of Justice.

Byline: by Michael O'Brien

Everyone who is trying to clear their name gets hassle.

I know because I had more than my share. The rule is: the more you fight, the greater the publicity; and the greater the publicity, the more harassment and problems you get from staff defending their system, right or wrong.

This spiral was to lead to me being shipped out of Long Lartin the month after Tony Blair's first election landslide.

It's common practice in prison for mail to start going missing when it is heading for someone fighting their conviction. It's a form of harassment using that essential link with the outside world. Your outgoing letter never gets to the person you sent it to.

The screws rip open your incoming letters and nick any money. I had pounds 20 go missing and these were recorded deliveries. I could prove these letters came in and I tried to call in the police at one jail.

One time at Long Lartin I was sending a letter to a solicitor who had been involved with the Carl Bridgewater case. The authorities, I believe, withheld the letter and I was called before the governor.He asked if this man was a proper solicitor, even though he had heard me talking on the phone with him a week earlier. I assured him - in no uncertain terms - it was a proper legal letter. Then I told the governor that if he opened it I'd have him for interfering with the mail under Clause 56 of the Post Office Act 1953. They don't like to have the law quoted at them!

I described my suspicions of the authorities in a letter from Long Lartin to Liberty's Linda Price on April 17, 1996. It was one of several letters I wrote to Linda from jail and which she kept. I'm grateful for the friendship and support she gave me then and now.

I told her: "...don't trust these people here at all, sent a parcel to a friend of mine in another establishment, (he) received the letter but not the contents of the parcel.

Prison officers at his end said the parcel was damaged in transport.

Don't believe them for one moment, slime balls they are".

I also discussed more general feelings.

"Sometimes I get this rage of bitterness which rears its ugly head," I wrote. "I felt (relief) and then anger when my divorce came through...relief to have got it over with but angry at the way my marriage was ruthlessly torn to shreds because of this miscarriage of justice and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

"The bitterness is slowly growing stronger by the day. It is getting more and more difficult by the day to hold it down too. Why did this have to happen to me?

There's more questions than answers that's for sure."

Continues tomorrow
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 25, 2008
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