Barry George Unframed

The big story this week in the UK has been the acquittal of Barry George in his retrial for the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando. At the time of his arrest and initial conviction, I had serious doubts about his guilt.

Having been a criminal defense attorney, I was aware of two things. First, since I hadn’t seen all of the evidence, I was not best placed to make any truly informed opinion about it. Second, I had seen police frame-ups since before I was admitted to Bar. I was practicing under supervision as a law student in a criminal defense clinic when I won back-to-back supression of evidence hearings against undercover narcotics officers who had no qualms about bald-face lying under oath. (My double win surprised both my supervising attorney and the assistant prosecutor, but that’s another story.)

What was obvious at the time was that the police needed to make a case. This was the highest profile murder in the UK for years. Dando was a presenter of the BBC series Crimewatch. The show was responsible for putting dozens of criminals behind bars. The Met were under a lot of public pressure. And if you want to know how the Met responds when they are under lots of pressure ask Jean Charles de Menezes. Oh, wait, sorry, he’s dead.  Ask Harry Stanley, then. No, wait, sorry, he’s dead, too.

Sure, Barry George is a nutter. His mental illness is compounded by his Asperger’s (and I make a clear distinction between the two). That didn’t make him a killer. He was a bit of a pest to women. That’s a long way from sidling up behind one on her doorstep and putting a bullet in the back of her head.

It’s like when the cops tried to spin that he was obsessed with Dando because they found eight newspapers in his flat with articles about her in them. What they didn’t say was that they found a total of 800 newpapers in his flat, so it is not surprising that eight of them had articles about a celebrity TV presenter.

Even though there were eyewitnesses that placed Barry impossibly away from Dando’s Gowan Avenue address, the one piece of circumstantial evidence the police relied on was a single grain of gunpowder reside on a coat belonging to George, found by police a year after the murder. After all, it wasn’t found until after it had been placed on a mannequin by police to be photographed as evidence. Barry doesn’t know how it got there, but I’m afraid I have to go with his suspicion that it was planted there by the police. I’ve known nutters and I’ve known police. Barry only has an IQ of 75, but I’m going with the nutter on this one.

The police maintain that they got their man, but after eight years in prison he got away. They have to do that in order to save face. As a result, it is very unlikely that they will make any real effort to find the real killer of Jill Dando.

10 Responses to “Barry George Unframed”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    DoomHamster has just completed an A level in Law to accompany her secretarial studies, and her law lecturer was also utterly convinced – and mentioned some months ago – that there was no substantive evidence against George .
    He appears to have many other psychological problems, but that is no reason to suggest that he did kill Dando.

  2. Dave Says:

    The single microscopic grain of discharge residue, a particle of gun smoke, could have drifted on the air and into his pocket.

    The forensic experts typically find hundreds to thousands of particles of discharge residue in a culprits pocket, even if a coat is washed. If it was a stitch-up the police would not have put only one particle of gun smoke in his pocket. It wasn’t a stitch up, in the absence of any leads, they were misled by criminal profilers who told them to look for a local odd ball and they got obsessed with George.

    Gill was killed (assassinated) in a very professional manner, with a smooth bored gun, with a customized bullet, she was ordered to kneel and the gun was pressed hard into her head, this muffled the sound so much … none of her neighbours heard the fatal shot. It took 5 seconds.

    Retired Police Commander John O’Connor also adds that half the gun powder was removed from the customized bullet, to reduce the chance of the gun barrel exploding in the assassins hand and further reduce the sound – if she was shot from a distance, the bullet would not have had the velocity to kill.

    Gill was killed on the 26th April 99, just 3 days after NATO bombed the Radio Television of Serbia headquarters, killing 16 employees. Gill had fronted the Kosovo DEC Refugee Appeal in early April 1999, and this may have made her a target.

  3. Steve Says:

    I’d be interested in your view (as a former lawyer) of the behaviour of J. Mark Brewer, an American lawyer whose activities seem to be bringing the name of Orthodoxy into disrepute in the UK.

  4. Walsingham Girl Says:

    See also;f=2;t=010601#000000
    for a detailed critique of many different aspects.

    It is a very sad situation indeed.

  5. sol Says:

    I became aware of the activities of the Brewers when they came to our fair city and wanted to buy a church building and install an Orthodox congregation in it. They also almost got the Unnamed Woman to volunteer in our local former SPCK bookstore.

    As it turned out, they found a woman who was willing to manage it in return for them stocking and arranging a full St Stephen’s/SPCK/Whatever distribution for her really flaky self-published book. I know this because Phil Brewer was in the shop at the time talking to her about it. How long she lasted I don’t know. We haven’t been in there for ages.

    I spent some time this evening trawling through the havoc they’ve reeked in the past few months, including the bankruptcy stuff. Speaking as a formerly practising lawyer, that it one of the dodgiest deals I’ve seen in a long time. It’s funny how the only creditor who they were planning to get anything out the liquidation was Mark Brewer in the guise of his attorney’s fees.

    The most shocking thing is how they want to completely screw everyone in the UK (employees and creditors) by using a US Court, then have then audacity to threaten Dave Walker and everyone else they can identify with cease and desist letters threatening to sue them in the US, because no one can actual appear and they can get default judgements against them. At the same time, they refuse to appear at employment tribunals in the country in which they were employing people.

    They wanted to bring Texas employment practices into the UK, apply Texas law, and say f*** y** (I’m sorry, but it is the verbal equivalent to their actions) to English law.

    Sadly it is an atheist who has an excellent legal analysis of Brewer’s position. As one of the commenters on that post noted, he can only bully Dave Walker because of the opportunity for a default judgement. If he had to actually produce evidence and withstand defense evidence and cross-examination, his case would fold like a house of cards. He could never make an actual case for libel in a Texas court, and if he has a license to practice law, he should know that. If, as a lawyer, he is specifically threatening a legal action, he is absolutely obligated to know it. He’s hiding behind Texas’ lack of a SLAPP law. With all the hard feelings that have been created, I am quite surprised that someone hasn’t raised this and the conflict of interest issues in the bankruptcy as a possible breach of professional responsibility with the State Bar in Texas.

    But the second thing is that he’s not about to enforce his judgement in an English court. It is simply too expensive a prospect for what he would get in return. I can’t imagine that even Mr Brewer is that stupid.

    As for my spiritual view of the whole thing, it is shameful, shameful, shameful. On top of the way the business was handled, and the patently bad and dishonest business dealings, I was disgusted when I read the bullying letters. To combine such behaviour with a sprinkling of Holy Scripture to justify it is foul. I noticed that Mark Brewer never included a quote from I Corinthians 6. Hmm…

  6. Steve Says:

    Thanks very much — it seems odd that a Texas court would even consider such a matter to be within its jurisdiction.

  7. Factotum Says:

    In fact I did write an anonymous letter to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the State Bar of Texas some weeks ago drawing attention to the following:

    Mr J. Mark Brewer, a practising Attorney, was a party to numerous actions before the Employment Tribunals in the UK alleging serious breaches of employment law – this was accompanied by a copy of USDAW’s press release;

    Mr Brewer and his co-Trustees have apparently conducted their business in an unethical way, and the pressures put on employees tragically resulted in the suicide of one of them

    there were significant losses in the SSG business, and that had to raise a question as to how those losses were being funded (a lawyer has access to client funds, and a responsible professional body will be concerned at any possibility or even risk of abuse here).

    The letter was intended to alert the Texas State Bar to the possibility that something might be seriously wrong.

    Matters have since moved on.

    Now that the bankruptcy case papers have been published, there are further questions posed by them, the most important of which is that Mr. Brewer may have deliberately misled the Court by attempting to liquidate a non-existent entity, and improperly invoked the US jurisdiction when he ought to have known (as an experienced commercial lawyer) that bankruptcy proceedings could only be brought in England and Wales – where alone his business traded.

    The “Cease and Desist” Notices may have been improper but I do not know what the law of defamation is in Texas. I suppose if Brewer has at the least an arguable case before the Texas Courts he would not be found to be acting improperly. I think you would have to show the C&D Notices were wholly misconceived or malicious to get a professional body to intervene.

    Someone, somewhere, has raised the issue of Mr Brewer’s educational qualifications as stated on the Brewer & Prtichard PC website. He appears to be claiming to hold an M.A. from Cambridge University when in fact he does not. If you look very closely at what he says on the site, he may have attended a summer school in Cambridge, taught by tutors from that university, while he was a student at the University of Southern California. His M.A. would have been awarded by USC. If that is so, he would never have been an enrolled student at Cambridge University, let alone one of its graduates. That is perhaps something he needs to clarify.

    He also claims membership of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, but its Secretary has apparently stated that there is no record that he now belongs to it. Such membership is open to anyone who fills in a form and pays a subscription. As the membership is not selective, it is improper to claim it as a professional qualification. It might however indicate Mr. Brewer’s interest in British foreign policies – which is fair enough given that he is known to have put his name forward some years ago for election to the U.S. Congress. Whether he still has political ambitions, I don’t know, and have to leave that the good electors of Houston. Neverthless the saga of SSG would hardly impress the voters and would certainly be of interest to his political opponents.

  8. sol Says:

    Thank you for that further elucidation.

  9. marguerite Says:

    In our society, in the UK and the US, we automatically suspect someone mentally disordered of being a killer or at least capable of killing because we have lost any understanding of sin. The mentally ill, particularly the psychotic, have become our polite scapegoats for everything.

  10. asingleblog Says:

    Thanks Sol for taking an interest in what has been happening with those who have worked and still work for St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust. For a long time Fr Hallam was a source of comfort for those of us who blogged on Cartoonchurch. He had to read some angry comments and had to explain so many times that St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust was not what Orthodoxy is all about. It was good to hear from two Orthodox Christians in a single blog.

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