Prisons minister Crispin Blunt has caused outrage by helping one of Britain’s most notorious murderers to give media interviews.
Jeremy Bamber was described as ‘evil, almost beyond belief’ by a judge when he was convicted of killing five members of his adoptive family – his parents, sister Sheila ‘Bambi’ Caffell, and her six year-old twins – in 1985.
But the gaffe-prone minister gave the green light for Bamber to give a self-justifying interview with a glossy magazine in which he accused his grieving cousins of setting him up as the fall guy.
Murder victim: Sheila 'Bambi' Caffell was killed by her adoptive brother in 1985In a move that enraged the family, Mr Blunt also decided to send a Whitehall press officer to facilitate the potentially libellous interview – all at taxpayers’ expense.
The affair has been brought to the attention of David Cameron, who has pronounced it ‘highly regrettable’ that Bamber was given a platform for his views.
The Daily Mail has seen papers in which Mr Blunt makes clear that he personally signed off the arrangement, in defiance of advice that the family would be distraught.In a letter to an MP, who does not wish to be identified, the prisons minister said: ‘Officials did make contact with the victim liaison officer to ascertain what the victims’ views might be prior to submitting advice to me.
‘I can and do fully appreciate that the reporting of Mr Bamber’s interview may have been disturbing and upsetting to the victims’ family, but ... we have to have good reason to refuse it.’
Appeal: Jeremy Bamber is trying to overturn his conviction again, after two failed attemptsSome might say the distress of a victim’s family would be reason enough, but Mr Blunt ignored the advice that they would be upset. Instead, he ordered the Ministry of Justice press office to contact the family and warn them what was happening.
Since the first interview with the Sunday Times magazine last year, Bamber has contacted other newspapers and collaborated with websites detailing his claims of innocence.
Bamber, now 50, was convicted after he was linked to a rifle silencer covered in specks of blood following the killings at White House Farm in the Essex village of Tolleshunt D’Arcy, near Colchester.
He has always maintained his innocence and claims his model sister killed the family before turning the gun on herself.
However, he has twice been turned down by the Court of Appeal. The Criminal Cases Review Commission is now considering a third attempt by him to clear his name.
Last year Bamber claimed his cousins Ann Eaton and David Boutflour set him up to cut him out of an inheritance. They rejected the claims as ‘piffle’.
A friend of the family said: ‘They were very upset by all this. They’ve been under siege and they feel a huge sense of injustice that Bamber has been allowed to spray around these allegations.
‘The Ministry of Justice knew of their distress but went ahead anyway and even put a press officer in to help out.’
Gaffe-prone: Prisons minister Crispin Blunt has helped Bamber give press interviewsMr Blunt has a history of curious decisions. He authorised Monsters’ Ball parties for rapists and murderers in prisons and Mr Cameron had to intervene after Mr Blunt announced rapists would have their sentences halved if they pleaded guilty early.He is widely expected to be sacked in the next reshuffle.
Families Fighting for Justice founder Jean Taylor – whose daughter Chantel was murdered – condemned Mr Blunt.
‘It’s disgusting that Crispin Blunt is giving a voice to a murderer while his victims have no voice,’ she said. ‘For Mr Blunt to give the okay to this interview is an insult to the people Bamber murdered, including little twin boys.’
Former policeman and victims campaigner Norman Brennan called for a ban on contact between murderers and the media.
He said: ‘We need a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system. Those who are found guilty and sentenced for murder must not be allowed to have any contact with the media while they are serving their sentence, unless there are very good reasons for them to do so.
‘I can’t think of any but if they do, such contacts should only be conducted through their lawyers.
‘The country is sick and tired of listening to the witterings of people who have been convicted and sentenced for murder, while the families of murder victims face the real life sentence.’
Mr Blunt said: ‘Ministers have no role to play in determining whether a conviction was unsafe and we cannot take a view when considering cases of this sort. The law is clear where there is an alleged miscarriage of justice, prisoners are entitled to access the media.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2025454/Sheila-Bambi-Cattell-murder-fury-MPs-help-killer-Jeremy-Bamber.html#ixzz1UxuRdbFW
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