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Suzanne Capper’s Murderer And The Jeremy Hunt Scandal

Graham Stringer MP on accountability, farce and terrible crime

Published on May 1st 2012.


Suzanne Capper’s Murderer And The Jeremy Hunt Scandal

WHAT is the connection between the Michael Caine film ‘Get Carter’, the murderers of Suzanne Capper and the soon to be ex Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt?

Taking politicians out of the equation amounts to the electorate emasculating itself.

Not obvious I admit. First ‘Get Carter’. Dennis Stafford’s 1967 shooting of a fruit machine cash collector inspired this classic British gangster film, but it also changed British murder law forever.

When Parliament abolished the death penalty it guaranteed to the British people that life would mean life. No convicted murderer would be released from jail without the agreement of the Home Secretary. If the Home Secretary released a dangerous murderer the electorate could throw him and his party out of office at the next election.

However in 2002 in a landmark decision the European Court of Human Rights ruled that then Home Secretary Michael Howard did not have the legal right to overrule the parole board and keep Stafford locked up. Thus the covenant between the electorate and government was broken and judges and parole boards usurped the role of the electorate and government ministers.

Just under 20 years ago 16-year-old Suzanne Capper was kidnapped, held in a house in North Manchester for a week, tortured and then driven in the boot of a car to Romiley and set on fire. She survived for four days, long enough to name her killers.

In my opinion the savagery and brutality that Suzanne suffered for 11 days was even worse than the victims of Hindley and Brady suffered. While the case was covered locally the attention of the national press was focused on the James Bulger murder, so this murder has not entered into the national memory as might have been expected.

One of Suzanne’s murderers Anthony Dudson is now up for parole. This is extraordinarily upsetting for Suzanne’s friends and family and in particular Suzanne’s mother Elizabeth Dunbar. Apart from the sheer injustice of Dudson being free while Suzanne has been dead for nearly 20 years, Mrs Dunbar is made to feel physically sick at the thought that one day she may bump into Suzanne’s killer. This must be unbearable for Mrs Dunbar and she should not have to bear it.

On Mrs Dunbar’s behalf I am making representations to the parole board. Like the Moors murderers Dudson and his fellow killers should not be released. I have no confidence that the parole board will not come to a perverse decision and release Dudson even after Mrs Dunbar’s and my representations, they are after all unaccountable and unlike the Home Secretary there are no consequences for them whatever view they take.

From the unbearably horrific to the pathetic Ealing Comedy-like performance of the Prime Minister and his Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (I am writing this two hours before a reluctant David Cameron has to defend his Culture Secretary in the House of Commons again).

The issue is simple, Adam Smith, Hunt’s Special Advisor, conspired with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in order to assist their takeover bid for BSkyB. He passed on invaluable information and the tactics of Murdoch’s opponents to News Corporation. It was Hunt’s job, acting in a quasi-judicial capacity, to say if the bid could go ahead, he was obliged to act in an even-handed way.

According to the Ministerial Code of Conduct, Hunt is responsible for the actions of his special advisor. Hunt must have known what Smith was up to, there is no closer relationship within government than that between a special advisor and his minister.

Hunt should therefore be sacked. The Prime Minister may delay the inevitable but I suspect Hunt will have to pay for his own tickets to the Olympics this summer. After this farce, one among many at the moment, some commentators have suggested that this and other quasi-judicial positions which are held by Ministers should be handed over to independent adjudicators.

Graham StringerGraham StringerLike the decision of the Court of Human Rights relating to imprisoned murderers, this would not only remove politicians from power but also the electorate. I have no doubt the Tories wanted to help Murdoch and diminish his main competition the BBC and in return they would expect electoral support from the newspapers in Murdoch’s Empire.

I also have no doubt that they would have paid an electoral price for these machinations. British people do not want BBC News replaced by Fox News, but there would be no role for the electorate if an independent adjudicator had made a similar decision.

Politicians are in bad odour following the MPs expenses scandal and the repeated experience of governments reneging on electoral promises, so it is not surprising that popular opinion is in favour of reducing the power of MPs. However taking politicians out of the equation amounts to the electorate emasculating itself.

Of course the political rascals should be thrown out of office, this is the democratic solution, it is not democratic to pass power to unaccountable quangos and individuals.

I would trust any Home Secretary I have ever known or read about from whichever party to make the right decision about Dudson, I could not say the same about a remote and unaccountable parole board.  

Graham Stringer is the MP for Blackley and Broughton and the ex-leader of Manchester City Council.

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17 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Clive GMay 1st 2012.

Very well put...

Trevor JonesMay 1st 2012.

A bit of a strained link between the points here but it makes for powerful reading

AnonymousMay 1st 2012.

Wow Graham's ready for his close up Mr DeMille... Reminds me of that King Crimson LP

the Whalley RangerMay 1st 2012.

'they are after all unaccountable and unlike the Home Secretary there are no consequences for them whatever view they take.'

That could be said of any judge, Mr Stringer. That is why we have the separation of powers. The legislature makes the rules, the executive executes, the judiciary judges. Calling for judges to be accountable to the plebs is just downright ludicrous.

Are you diverting from the real topic again?

When politicians fiddle, Yard heads roll without investigation, Olympic backhanders blemish the associated projects before they are even occupied, press listens in on my private affairs and bankers' boards renumerate each other to the hilt, all you worry about is the unaccountability of quangos?

Are you trying to pull up a smoke screen here?

I trust a judge to make a decision on a matter of criminality and would like to see any 'personal feelings' removed from the court room and certainly the parole office. It's simply none of your vote-seeking populist business, mate...

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 1st 2012.

In his second paragraph, Graham Stringer MP demonstrates why we have laws to stop politicians interfering in court cases. Dennis Stasfford and Michael Luvaglio have been protesting their innocence of the murder of Angus Sibbett for 45 years. Anyone writing about the case should mention that fact. Let us leave the arresting to the police, the trial to the lawyers, the verdict to the jury and, Mr Stringer, the reporting to the reporters. MPs get to write the laws. Police, lawyers, juries and reporters have to bey the law, not the politicians.

Andrew RosthornMay 1st 2012.

In his second paragraph, Graham Stringer MP demonstrates why we have laws to stop politicians interfering in court cases. Dennis Stafford and Michael Luvaglio have been protesting their innocence of the murder of Angus Sibbett for 45 years. Anyone writing about the case should mention that fact. Let us leave the arresting to the police, the trial to the lawyers, the verdict to the jury and, Mr Stringer, the reporting to the reporters. MPs get to write the laws. Police, lawyers, juries and reporters have to obey the laws, not the politicians.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 2nd 2012.

"Anyone writing about the case should mention that fact." Why? Most criminals claim they didn't do it. They were convicted by a jury of their peers and are therefore murderers.

Parliament has an important part to play in ensuring our laws are right and they are upheld properly. Don't forget, judges are appointed. WE put the politicians there.

CobbydalerMay 2nd 2012.

Some balance from other local politicians perhaps? Why always Stringer?

Jonathan Schofield -editorMay 2nd 2012.

Cobbydaler they're more than welcome and we've often asked

AnonymousMay 2nd 2012.

I dont like the sugestion that the parole board and judges set out to userp a democratic power from the people, that was simply not the case.

Readers should remember that it was the Labour government who brought us the human rights act which opened the existing system up for challenge and change. And guess what, Graham Stringer MP voted for it.

AnonymousJanuary 3rd 2013.

I was at St. Matthews RC High School in Manchester, in the same year as Anthony Michael Dudson. He was a complete bully. If I ever see him on the street I will personally break his neck, knowing what he did.

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