‘THIS IS AN ENORMOUS VICTORY!’ says Peter Chappell – organiser of the ‘George Davis is Innocent’ campaign

PETER CHAPPELL and GEORGE DAVIS celebrate their victory outside the Court of Appeal on Tuesday
PETER CHAPPELL and GEORGE DAVIS celebrate their victory outside the Court of Appeal on Tuesday

GEORGE Davis, now 69, says he should not have had to wait ‘36 long years’ for his conviction for armed robbery to be quashed this week.

His imprisonment in the 1970s led to a national campaign and his release by the home secretary of the day, Roy Jenkins.

But his conviction was not overturned, and his supporters remained determined to clear his name over the robbery at the London Electricity Board in Essex.

Speaking after his conviction was quashed at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, he said in a statement: ‘This is a bitter sweet moment for me.

‘I am, of course, delighted that my conviction has been quashed. I have been protesting my innocence since 1974.’

George Davis said what his appeal had established was that ‘evidence my lawyers and the jury should have been told about’, and which the Moulder Investigation after the trial, was ‘concealed’.

‘It is only because of the persistent efforts and hard work of my lawyers and the CCRC (Criminal Cases Review Commission) that this evidence was finally obtained last year,’ he continued.

‘I have made it clear that I have no intention of seeking compensation for my wrongful conviction.

‘I have pursued this appeal for all these years because I wanted all those people who worked for and helped the campaign in the 1970s to know that their support was justified.

‘This successful appeal would not have been possible without the particular support and work of my dear friends Peter and Shirley Chappell, my late ex-wife, Rose, our families and friends and all those people, many of whom I never knew, who worked with the campaign.

‘Nor without the efforts of Mr Goodwin and from the CCRC or the integrity of Mr Reynolds, the inspector who originally investigated the 1974 robbery and whose evidence to the Moulder investigation in 1976 and to my solicitor this year has been so important.

‘Today’s outcome could not have been achieved without the extraordinary skills and hard work of David Whitehouse QC and of my solicitor, Bernard Carnell.’

Peter Chappell said: ‘I’m delighted the conviction has been quashed, even though we had to drag it out of them over 37 years and I’ve always said that George Davis was innocent.

‘Two days after he was arrested, the campaign to free George Davis was begun by me by driving my lorry into the front office of the “Daily Mirror’’ building, through the plate glass windows, and then I went round the corner and did the same to three other newspaper offices, and then I drove up Fleet Street, up The Strand, into Trafalgar Square, under Admiralty Arch, down the Mall and into Buckingham Palace Gates, before I gave myself up.’

He repeated that the evidence that ‘should have been told about to the jury in 1975’ was concealed.

‘In fact,’ he remarked, ‘when Roy Jenkins got up in the Houses of Parliament and announced he was releasing George Davis with a pardon, he must have known, he absolutely must have known, he must have read the Moulder report, and he knew then that this was a conspiracy.

‘It was a conspiracy from day one, nodding, winking and nudging. That’s a conspiracy, and they were all in it,’ he alleged.

He added: ‘This is an enormous victory for me personally and the campaign and the supporters of that campaign.

‘There must have been tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of people in this country, believed in me.

‘They didn’t know George Davis was innocent, I did. They believed in me.

‘I owe all those supporters. This is their victory.’

He added: ‘We’ve dragged this verdict out of them and they whispered the verdict in court.

‘It must have been sickening for them.

‘It was so grudging, and they even tried to malign George, even after they overturned his conviction,’ he remarked.

‘The last chapter of this story hasn’t been told yet and it’s obvious to me, blatantly obvious to me, that they tried to bury this story today, amongst everything else that’s going on.

‘I’m determined and so are the campaigners that the corruption and the conspiracy that went all the way up to Roy Jenkins is going to come out,’ he further commented.

Also in his opinion one of the judges was ‘extremely, rude to the QC involved in this case from day one – rebuking the man.

‘This was his last day in court. He’s retiring today,’ he said.

George Davis was released in May 1976 after Home Secretary Roy Jenkins said there was serious doubt about his identification.

But it has taken more than three decades to get his conviction overturned.

A summarised statement released by his solicitor said: ‘One of the most disturbing features of this case is that since 1977 a report by Detective Chief Superintendent Moulder of the Hertfordshire police – containing most of the evidence which has now led the Court of Appeal to quash Mr Davis’s convictions – has been in possession of the DPP’s office, the police and the Home Office for 34 years.

‘The original investigating officer and other officers had information which undermined significant aspects of the identification, and other evidence senior officers at Scotland Yard put pressure on him (the original investigating officer) not to reveal that information to the jury.

‘All this was in the Moulder Report and unknown to Mr Davis.

‘It was only this year that the prosecution no longer disputed what had taken place.

‘Numerous requests by Mr Davis and lawyers on his behalf for the Moulder Report were repeatedly refused for over 30 years.

‘Mr Davis’s barrister, David Whitehouse QC, and I were finally able to obtain it only last year.

‘How many government and police lawyers have known of the Moulder Report since 1977 and failed to take appropriate action?

‘Who made the decisions both before the trial in 1975 and since to keep hidden what should have been disclosed?’

A fuller press release by the solicitor on behalf of George Davis, issued after Tuesday’s court ruling, also said: ‘Evidence presented both the Moulder Investigation, and in this appeal, included evidence from Mr Brian Reynolds who, as Inspector Reynolds, investigated the LEB robbery until was taken over by the Robbery Squad.

‘Mr Reynolds subsequently rose through the ranks to become a Deputy Chief Constable.

‘His evidence both to the Moulder Investigation and in a witness statement this year, unchallenged by the prosecution, was that before he gave evidence at the trial in 1975 he was called to New Scotland Yard where pressure was put on him by very senior officers from the Robbery Squad to limit what he might say in court contradicting identification and other evidence from other police officers.

‘Mr Reynolds was sufficiently concerned about what had taken place, even after 36 years, he was willing to give evidence to the Court of Appeal.

‘In fact the prosecution accepted the written statements given to me by Mr Reynolds which were put before the judges, so that there was no need to call him.

‘On a number of occasions, after the Moulder Report was completed in 1977, both Mr Davis and solicitors acting for him asked the Home Office for a copy of it. All such requests were refused. …

‘Even when the full report was provided to me and David Whitehouse QC in 2010, the police imposed a condition, only recently lifted after the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the case to the Court of Appeal, that no-one else, not even Mr Davis, was permitted to know its contents.’