Court of Appeal quashes half-century convictions based on racist police officer’s evidence

Thursday 18 January 2024

Henry Blaxland KC, of the Garden Court Criminal Appeals Team, acted for Saliah Mehmet and Basil Peterkin, instructed by Matt Foot of APPEAL.

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The appeals of Basil Peterkin and Saliah Mehmet were referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC). They had been convicted in 1977 of thefts from a postal sorting office where they both worked, based on evidence of D.S. Ridgewell, a dishonest and racist British Transport Police Officer who himself was subsequently convicted of theft from the same sorting office.

This is the latest of a series of appeals arising out of convictions based on Ridgewell’s evidence, including the Oval 4 and the Stockwell 6. The Court agreed with our submissions that the case revealed serious failures by the British Transport Police, in that Ridgewell should not have been allowed to continue on duty after his conduct was exposed in the early 1970s, and that, following Ridgewell’s criminal conviction, all criminal convictions based on his evidence should have been reviewed.

The result of that failure meant that by the time of the appeal both the appellants had died and were denied the vindication of having their convictions quashed.

The case has been covered extensively in the press including BBC News, The Guardian, Sky NewsThe Independent, The MirrorThe Metro and The Justice Gap.

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