Bridgend-based publishers Seren is doing something of a community service with their publication of The Dossier: certainly for anyone concerned about the endemic, seemingly limitless reserves of police corruption, and especially readers resident in South Wales, the book’s focal area. Its author, Michael O’Brien, has been wrapped up in the topic for over 30 years, unjustly, at first, and later of his own volition.
He was one of the ‘Cardiff Newsagent Three’ arrested in 1987 after the murder of Philip Saunders, coerced into a bogus confession, sentenced the following year and released in 1999 after their convictions were overturned. O’Brien has become a prominent highlighter of similar legal outrages, 14 regional examples of which are addressed in this book after he’s picked through the bones of his own (the Cardiff Newsagent Three case takes up about two-thirds of The Dossier, not wholly unreasonably).
Presented in fairly spartan fashion, with no archive photos or similar – it could have done with a more thorough proofreading as well, to be honest – the basic facts of these cases are nevertheless bleak and bile-inducing. From a trumped-up terrorism charge against 10 Welsh nationalists in the early 80s to the relatively recent case of Joseph Fettah, questionably convicted in 2017 of dangerous driving, you might finish The Dossier asking a (possibly unanswerable) question O’Brien doesn’t raise: is there a particular rot to south Wales’ policing culture, or is it merely a regional variation of a worldwide malaise?
The Dossier: Miscarriages Of Justice In South Wales 1982-2016, Michael O’Brien (Seren)
Price: £9.99. Info: here
words NOEL GARDNER
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