“To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.”
– Magna Carta 1215, clause 40
Sorry to hear of the passing of Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four who were wrongly arrested and convicted of the IRA’s bombing of two 6-pound gelignite bombs at two pubs in Guildford in Surrey.
The underlying tragedy (aside from five people killed in the first of what were for the time tiny bombs) of Conlons life was the implication of a large number of his wider family on evidence he thought at the time was so ridiculous it would be quickly found out and charges dropped.
Although I have very briefly met Paul Hill, another of those arrested and falsely charged, I didn’t know Conlon. I did however have a friend at College who had lived in the flat below them in London at the time, and who was also ‘lifted’ in the raid that took the others in.
For someone who was exonerated the process he and others went through was nothing short of brutal. In those days, you could detain someone for seven days, and all that was required for an extension was to bring the suspect in front of a court.
It took thirteen weeks of consistent denial along with endless questions about his personal politics, the nature of the books on his bookshelf and every so often being hauled out into the daylight and into the courtroom until the day his interrogator finally told him he was free.
Here’s a video of Conlon speaking at a recent conference of the organisation he helped to set up, Justice Watch Ireland…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty