6 Jul 2011

Eight retired policemen tried for ‘Cardiff Three’ corruption

The former officers and two members of the public stand accused of involvement in a notorious miscarriage of justice, as Katie Razzall reports from Cardiff.

It is believed to be the biggest trial of former police officers in British legal history. Today eight ex-policemen – including a retired superintendent and two ex-chief inspectors – sat in the crowded dock of Court 1 at Swansea Crown Court.

They were joined by two members of the public who, it is alleged, deliberately lied on oath.

This case is all about the conviction back in 1990 of three men for the brutal murder of a prostitute. The retired police officers on trial today were all involved in the murder investigation. They are charged with moulding, manipulating, influencing and fabricating evidence.

The murdered woman was 20-year old Lynette White. She was stabbed to death in the Docks area of Cardiff on Valentine’s Day, 1988. For nine months there were very few leads. Then one of today’s defendants, Violet Perriam, came forward with what the police at the time said was new evidence.

Within a month, five men were charged with murdering Lynette White.

After two trials, three of the five, among them Lynette’s boyfriend Stephen Miller, were convicted in 1990 of her murder.

However doubts over their convictions persisted, and the case of the men who had become known as the “Cardiff Three” was taken up by miscarriage of justice campaigners. In 1992 they were freed on appeal, and 15 years after Lynette White’s murder another man, Jeffrey Gafoor, was arrested and confessed to killing her.

Today Nick Dean QC, for the prosecution, told the jury the case against the innocent men was a fiction, “almost entirely a fabrication”, “largely the product of the imagination and then the theories and beliefs of police officers”.

All the defendants deny the charges. The case is expected to last six months.