A couple of the comments on my post about Michael Shields appeared to suggest that the Oldham Echo had wrapped itself around the campaign, something which tainted the integrity of it. I understand where they're coming from; the Echo has "gone to town" on the story not out of any sense of altruism, but because it cynically calculates that it will at least arrest the sharp decline in its circulation figures. However, there will come a time in the near future when the temporary rise in sales comes to a close.
As for the case itself, it was inevitable that the whispering campaign against Michael would intensify. They tend to emanate from the usual quarters & I won't dignify any of them by providing links. A welcome & necessary corrective to the drip, drip, drip of innuendo, conjecture & open lies appeared in today's Guardian, courtesy of a piece by Stephen Jakobi of Fair Trials Abroad (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/sep/16/michael-shields-miscarriage-of-justice ).
Jakobi, who attended part of the trial, states: "Almost all the formalities of a fair trial were observed, but it was all for show. All applications by the defence were refused. All applications by the prosecution, no matter how unreasonable, were granted."
Jakobi relates how the skewed nature of the trial sometimes bordered on the Pythonesque. However, he gets to the meat of the case when he declares:
"Above all, the treatment of original eyewitness identification was appalling. Witnesses were allowed to contradict their original police statements that they could not remember the defendant's face, and the defence were not allowed to put these statements to the witnesses in cross-examination. Everyone was allowed to make dock identification as though this had real evidential worth. It was clear by her own evidence that the only person who picked Shields out at an identification parade had had no opportunity of seeing his face at the time of the incident."