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Private Eye - Forced Errors - Mar 2007

(C) Private Eye, 2007 - www.private-eye.co.uk

Miscarriage of Justice

After Gordon Park's conviction for the murder of his ex-wife Carol in the so called "lady in the lake" case (Eyes 1177 and 1150), he complained about the investigation carried out by Cumbria police.

The force dismissed his complaints so Park appealed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which has just ruled that there are four issues that should have been recorded as complaints.

Eye readers will remember that Carol's body was found in Lake Coniston in August 1997, twenty-one years after she disappeared. Although Park was arrested straightaway, he was only convicted in January 2005 on the most dubious of evidence (Eye 1150). The couple's two children are now a the forefront of a campaign to prove his innocence - a campaign recently joined by Tony Benn, who said: "it would appear that a grave injustice has been done."

The first of Park's complaints is that his defence was hampered because sometime between 1976 and 2004 Cumbria police lost the original missing person's case file. Park has always argued that he would have been able to prove his innocence if the police had kept all the original documents.

The second complaint is that the police misled the judge and jury. During the trial the coach taking them to see where Carol's body was discovered went by a strangely circuitous route, creating the impression that only a local man would know it. In reality there is a direct route straight up the main road.

Park also asserts that witnesses were in properly coached. During the police interview of Glen Banks, an inmate with learning difficulties to whom Park was said to have made a cell confession, it was clear that the police tape had been stopped and restarted several times. In court Banks explained that "he [the officer] was, like, giving me a bollocking".

And finally, Park claimed that exhibits from the lake were not properly logged and recorded. A rock supposedly found on the lake bed was deemed to have come from the garden of his home, and so linked him to the crime. However there is no evidence that the rock was ever in Coniston, and no record of it at all until several days after it was supposedly recovered from the water by divers - none of whom recalled finding it.

Despite Park's successful appeal to the IPCC, and instead of looking at the matters raised, the Cumbria police have asked the IPCC to strike out the complaints on the grounds that they should have been made sooner, and that they were in any event covered at trial.

(C) Private Eye, 2007 - www.private-eye.co.uk