Doubtful Memories of a Radical Lawyer
During my prisoner support activities, many questions have stalked my mind like frightening shadows. Three such questions are ‘Who are the real criminals?’ ‘Where are they found?’ and what exactly are there offences? These questions have found expression in the ongoing struggle of John Bowden.
In 1981, John was convicted with two other men of the murder of a man who had been drinking in their company. Mr. Michael Mansfield Q.C. defended him and offered no mitigation at all. John was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum recommended term of twenty-five years before he could be considered for parole. The other accused Michael Ward, a grave digger and David Begley, a porter were also sentenced to life but with a minimum term of fifteen years.
Mr. Mansfield has been prominent in many high profile defense cases during his career as a barrister. Recently, he has published his memoirs “Memoirs of a radical Lawyer” as describes John as follows –
“I had defended John Bowden at the Old Bailey in
relation to what became known as ‘The Camberwell
Murders’ a series of particularly grotesque and
gruesome killings which had involved carving up
homosexuals and winos and freezing the cuts.”
John has rightly described this as “a blatant lie.” It seems Mr Mansfield is John to the murders of Denis Neilson the multiple murderer who strangled and dismembered his victims. Neilson stalked the gay community in London from 1978 onward and was charged with the murder of six of the seven men the police had been able to identify.
Why Mr. Mansfield has published this unfortunate untruth
is unclear. John feels it may be due to a wish to infuse drama
into his “invented’ account of his role in a Parkhurst Prison siege in which John was involved. There may be something in this yet I prefer to maintain an open mind.
Other details warrant attention. John is of Irish descent and Bowden is an Irish name.
On his right forearm are tattooed the words “Ireland the Brave.” John actually spent his formative years in London’s East end yet is referred to “a lad from Wales”.
Mr. Mansfield also states that John was “Made bad by drink and unemployment” although patronizing in tone this may be seen as a mitigation statement yet why was no mitigation at all offered at his trial? Also, the vague term “bad” tells us nothing of substance at all. I think John is correct in describing the book as “..full of self praise verging on the narcissistic “
So what is behind the untruths and distortion regarding John Bowden? I am presently uncertain and the profound dysfunctionality of the “justice” system is apparent as no legal aid exists for libel actions and that, having committed a serious crime a long standing piece of case law states that John has no character to defame. According to law John’s existence is that of a non – person. The law in England, of which Mr. Mansfield is something of an establishment icon all too readily, allows lies and misinformation of the kind I have described.
I await the resolution of this with trepidation. In 1649, John Warr argued that the laws of England were “ Full of deceit and contrary in themselves” Little, it seems, has changed.
George Coombs (560 Words)