Blair Peach in the press: “six police in probe” (7 October 1979)

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The news that the DPP did not support prosecution of any of the officers named in the Cass report did not prevent others from taking up the call for the report to be published. By autumn 1979, the Conservative government was maintaining its line that there would be no public inquiry, which meant that the most important public forum would be the coming inquest. Would the Coroner John Burton agree to let Peach’s family see Cass’ report?

We know now that he never did disclose the report, which he referred to, and which counsel for the Metropolitan police also had, making it practically impossible for the barristers at the Inquest representing the family and the ANL to properly examine witnesses.

The National Council of Civil Liberties was watching the inquest closely, and its Committee of observers chaired by the Oxford philosopher Michael Dummett, complained of the injustice of depriving one party to a public inquest access to information held by another, “We believe that the existence of private evidence, available to the coroner and the Metropolitan Police counsel but not to the other parties, made it impossible for the inquest to be a proper and fair investigation of the cause of Blair Peach’s death and seriously weakened public confidence in the proceedings. Such evidence should either be exclude altogether or, if given to anyone involved in the inquest, should be given to everyone… [T]he law should be changed to provide all parties at an inquest with an entitlement to see all evidence made available to the coroner.”

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