This involved promoting to hero status, prior to a trial, a police officer who imagined that he had been stabbed by an 8inch kitchen knife. In order to gain ‘Brownie’ points senior officers praised his bravery and presented him with a certificate of merit. He was later to be nominated for the ‘Argus Achievement of theYear Award’, for selfless brave, and generous acts. He has claimed he is having nightmares resulting from an 8” knife being plunged into his chest. This web page is intended to shame those who victimize the vulnerable, warns the public not to believe the Argus and especially beware of duty doctors and solicitors.
So make a cup of tea, sit back in your favourite chair and be amazed at the following story.
After a lifetimes hard work, at the age of 72, I decided it was time to retire. That was when my younger sister Dorothy phoned from Brighton. “Michael, please come at once, Alex’s been arrested”. Dorothy then explained that she and my brothers John and Stanley needed my help as Alex was in Lewes prison charged with attempting to wound a police officer with an 8 inch kitchen knife. This came as a shock as 58 year old Alex, who had suffered from schizophrenia since a child, had never harmed anyone. A keen musician he had visited the U.S.A.and in his younger days drove a delivery van for a well known electrical firm. Alex became ill and his nurse decided that urgent medication was required. Alex did not like hospitals and was scared of police a well known schizophrenic symptom. Normally para-medics who understand the mentally ill would deal with Alex perhaps with the aid of an injection.
On the afternoon of the 28th Feb. 2007 two doctors and a social worker arrived at the small basement flat. Alex who was in the kitchen area heard voices, and leant against the door. It was decided to seek police help and Hollingdale and Cameron arrived. It was agreed they should force an entry. After announcing “it’s the police” and pushing open the door PC Cameron claimed that Alex stabbed him.
2nd March 2007 - The front page of the Brighton Argus was entirely concerned with the story headlined:-
OFFICER SAVED BY VEST—ARMOUR
DEFLECTS KNIFE LUNGE BY DANGER PATIENT
Including a large photo of a sad looking PC Cameron.
My Alex a danger patient?? I noted the names of the reporters Ben Parsons and Rachel Pegg.
Dorothy told me that Alex had been pepper- sprayed twice dragged down the road by extra police and taken away in a police van. Instead of taking him to hospital he was held at Brighton police station on a charge of attempting to wound. He was assessed by the doctors who were present at his arrest which included the duty doctor at the police station Dr. Sparkes.
Alex’s nurse was in tears when told he was not ill. This allowed the police to ask a sick man 250 questions in 40 mins. Too ill to contact the family solicitor he was informed he must have the duty solicitor. Dorothy told me she was not allowed to see him at Brighton but had visited him following his transfer to Lewes prison. She was shocked to find he was now mute and had lost weight. He was rescued by Dr. Karen Guy who realised that Alex needed medication and he was moved to a high security hospital at Stevenage Hertfordshire where six weeks following his arrest he was at last cared for.
It was now early April 2007 and I had still not seen Alex. I discovered that Alex had sacked the duty solicitors, Burchell Williams a week after his arrest because they considered him guilty.
He wrote to the court to try and change to our family solicitor and this was refused. With a court hearing to decide whether Alex was fit to plead, due in early May, and Alex refusing to have any contact with Burchell’s I went to see him at Stevenage and he agreed that I should have authorisation to act on his behalf. Although at that stage there was no reason to distrust Burchell’s if Alex was concerned then I would leave nothing to chance. Here I offer some good advice, make certain everything is in writing and avoid the use of the phone. As a result I have hundreds of letters that will confirm this story. At the ‘fitness to plead’ hearing the family met Hazell Merritt the solicitor appointed by Burchell’s and the barrister who were of the opinion we should enter a plea of guilty due to Alex’s health.
So Alex was right, the defence did not believe, as I did, that he was innocent. It was agreed that the stab vest should be examined although by now I would not have been surprised at what state it was in. I needed time and Alex's intention not to attend court without a defence he could trust would delay a judgement. Thus a van load of police drove to Stevenage and back empty handed .
The court adjourned until October for psychiatric reports.
Early June 2007 arrived and doctors decided that Alex was not dangerous and he was moved to a medium security hospital near Brighton. This made visiting easier for the family and just a four hour train journey for me. Both Cygnet hospital at Stevenage and Hellingly are excellent, allowing Alex his guitar and caring for him as he slowly recovers from his ordeal at the hands of Brighton police. I visited him several times although never mentioned the events regarding his arrest.
By July the psychiatric reports were complete, one of which was forwarded to me. In that report the doctor stated that Alex had thrust the knife at the officer half a dozen times. At this stage I realised there was something seriously wrong with the way our defence was being handled. The single stab reported in the Argus had now become six and still the solicitor had not viewed the vest. I again reminded the solicitor of the need to view the stab vest. Meanwhile.Alex asked the court yet again for a change of solicitor. August 7th 2007 Hazel Merritt wrote that she was not able to view the vest although she had chased the CPS a number of times. I was becoming a very angry man and this meant that I could not sleep well. Later that month I met John and agreed that I should write to the court seeking a change of solicitor to one who believed in Aex’s innocence and point out that it was ten weeks since I had asked for the vest to be viewed and this had not happened.
While I did not receive a reply from the judge the vest was viewed
and much to the surprise of the officer in charge not a mark could be
found. From this point on Burchells were more positive in their
attitude to the defence although I did not believe in them. That
distrust was well founded when I received a large envelope from John
containing letters and all the witness statements that Alex had
hidden away. These were to result in more anger and sleepless nights.
My first discovery was that Alex had received a letter dated 7th
March 2007 from Burchell’s, this was very quick as he was arrested
on the 28th February. I would ask you to picture a sick
man, violently arrested and feeling as low as anyone could. The
letter included the following:-
Two police officers, PC Cameron and Pc Hollingdale, both state you had a knife and stabbed PC Cameron’s, protective vest…..
On the face of the statements the evidence against you appears very strong…….
The maximum sentence is life imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. I believe the case to be strong against you and in my view if this case went to a contested trial you are likely to be convicted ……
This letter was sent by Hazel Merritt acting for Burchell Williams.
Is it any wonder we hear about people on remand committing suicide?
I now realised why Alex sacked his solicitor.
Now armed with the witness statements I was able to find out exactly what the police officers had stated.
PC Hollingdale:- I didn’t see Coughtrey holding the knife at any point and so did not witness the stabbing.
PC Cameron :- Although I did not see the knife contact me the only
thing that could have hit me like that was a blow from the knife.
[ It was a small mobile phone].
I now had the evidence that Burchells had lied to Alex. I informed the Legal Complaints Service who would not consider complaints about advice provided by a solicitor. Alex decided to attend the Oct. 22nd hearing and request a change of solicitor. At 9.30 he arrived at court with his nurses and was the last case to be heard over two hours later. The judge ignored him and decided he was not fit to appear at a trial due on 8th Feb. as one psychiatrist reported that Alex was not a well man because he did not trust his solicitor’.
Alex then wrote to the court supported by my letter to make it clear that I considered Burchell’s as ‘hostile to the defence’. Finally, on November 14th 2007, after 8 months we were allowed to change solicitors. Meanwhile Assistant Chief Constable Robin Merrett, was blissfully making plans to honour PC Cameron with a certificate of merit for his bravery unaware that we now had a formidable defence.
With only eight weeks to the trial we had to act quickly. I had worked out from statements made by the police that Alex had not stabbed PC Cameron as he did not hold the knife found at the scene.
I was now able to give the complete defence document to Sue Lenier, solicitor for Kelly's solicitors, for the attention of a barrister to be appointed. Sue spent many hours with Alex and her confident and professional manner revitalised him after he had given up all hope. Surprisingly it was now her intention to get the doctors to agree that Alex could now give evidence at the trial.
14th January 2008, three weeks before the trial, yet another photo (8”x6”) of PC Cameron appeared in the Argus. Their favourite officer was presented with a certificate of merit for bravery after he was “knifed in the chest”. Assistant Chief Constable Robin Merrett praised him for his “outstanding courage and professionalism”. PC Cameron told the Argus reporter Ben Parsons, his narrow escape from injury or death stayed with him, "it was every officers nightmare” This 'factual' reporting close to the trial date, was regarded as correct as it came from a reputable source, the police and chief witness for the prosecution. (Press Complaints Commission).
I met the new barrister Kerim Fuad at the court on the day of the trial. When I previously questioned the competence of the barrister provided by Burchell’s I was informed that it would cost thousands for someone else.
We now had a highly professional Temple Inn barrister who was intent on proving Alex was innocent. Kerim praised the defence papers that I had prepared and explained that he would have to put this to the court prior to a trial. Alex was in court and as the family were not invited in so we have only his account of what happened. Apparently he was most impressed at the way Kerim attacked the prosecution stating that if the case went to trial they would be destroyed in court. It was decided to allow more time for Alex to recover (though more likely this was to allow the CPS to consider if they had a case!)
The date of the trial was now set for 6th July2008.The Argus then decided to publish the nominations for:-
‘The Argus Achievement Awards 2008’ due to take place on 24th June.
This featured their hero PC Cameron along with another large photo. He was still claiming to be suffering nightmares about a man who picked up a knife and plunged it into him. As I had informed Frank Le Duc the deputy editor that a forensic report stated a knife never went anywhere near the vest I was not about to allow PC Cameron another award. Friends of Alex distributed leaflets attacking the Argus and thanks to the good people of Brighton the nomination was withdrawn.
Monday 19th May 2008 all charges were dropped.
I am now (2008) 73 and I cannot continue to fight on without your support. I trust this web page will make everyone aware of a system that punishes the innocent and protects the guilty. How many victims are in prison because they are not able to defend themselves?
Alex is an example of easy prey for the police, who with the aid of the Argus promoted an officer to hero status and gained bonus points for the Chief of Brighton Police.
Will PC Cameron keep his award?
How much did Burchell Williams receive of tax-payers money?
Can the Argus justify their massive support for the police prior to a trial?
Without a mark to the vest and no witness stating Alex held a knife
the police were so confident that the defence would secure a
conviction they presented Cameron with an award, praised him for his
bravery, and even allowed a nomination for the Argus ‘Achievement
of the Year Award ‘ all prior to a trial. Alex was set-up by the
police, assaulted, denied medication for six weeks and remanded for 15 months.
Join the fight for an honest police force and a truthful Argus.
I absolutely rely on your support. Please help by writing/emailing to the people referenced below or in any other way you can.
3 Woodrows Lane, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex CO16 8DR
Your local MP – you can send a message from the site http://www.writetothem.com
Sir Brian Cubbon
Press Complaints Commissioner
London EC1N 2JD
Tel: 020 7831 0022
Burchell Williams Ltd.
Brighton BN2 OBG
Tel: 01273 606555
Chief Superintendent of Police
Brighton Police Station
Brighton BN2 OLA
Frank Le Duc
Deputy Editor The ARGUS
Brighton BN2 8AR
Tel: 01273 544 544
UPDATE - Frank Le Duc was made redundant on New Year's Eve.
He first worked at the Argus, his home town paper, from 1988 to 1991, and later worked for the Times for 12 years, before rejoining the Argus in September 2006.
No replacement has been appointed, and when asked who now deputises for the editor, Michael Beard, a source told Press Gazette: "That's an extremely good question".
Reference:- Brighton Argos, 14th January, 2009
In acknowledgement of the support of my sister
Dorothy, brothers John and Stanley and friends.
Dedicated to the good people of Brighton who