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Saturday, November 8, 1997 Published at 16:28 GMT


Nanny's hometown rallies for her freedom

Over 250 supporters gathered in Louise's home village

More than 250 people have demonstrated in Elton, Cheshire, the home village of au pair Louise Woodward, calling for her to be released and returned home.

Ms Woodward's supporters wore yellow ribbons and held yellow balloons - the symbols of their campaign.

During the rally a letter was read from the MP for Ellesmere Port, Andrew Miller.

In his message Mr Miller said the supporters of 19-year-old Louise had not forgotten the tragedy experienced by the Eappen family. The au pair was convicted to serve a life sentence for killing the Eappen's nine-month-old son Matthew.

Mr Miller said: "We all recognise that this is a double tragedy and never a day goes by without us thinking of baby Matthew. Perhaps we will never know just how Matthew died.

"But I remain unshaken in my belief that Louise is innocent."

He added that he had received hundreds of letters and e-mails in support of the campaign.

[ image: The photograph of Mathew Eappen that caused the controversy]
The photograph of Mathew Eappen that caused the controversy
The rally coincided with the decision of Debbie and Sunil Eappen to release a photograph of their son Mathew shortly before he died.

The decision to publish the photograph has attracted criticism from Ms Woodward's supporters. They say the Eappen's are trying to influence the outcome of the recent hearing into the case.

Friends of the Eappen family say they are just trying to focus attention on the loss of Mathew Eappen.

[ image: The advert in a British magazine which promises 'excitment in the USA']
The advert in a British magazine which promises 'excitment in the USA'
There has also been criticism of the au pair agency that employed Louise Woodward.

The company has released a magazine advertisment which promises young women 'an exciting year in the USA'. Childcare experts say that the advert does not draw enough attention to the fact that au pairs have to look after children.

The agency released a statement - saying that all their au pair's get full training.

On Monday, the judge in the Louise Woodward trial will announce his decision whether he will allow an appeal or reduce her sentence from one for 2nd degree murder to one of man slaughter.

The BBC News web site is among those choosen to publish the judge's decision on the Internet.

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Judge chooses BBC News to publish the nanny verdict

Internet Links

Louise Woodward site - active from Nov 10

The Louise Woodward campaign for justice

Town Online - Louise Woodward case

The BBC is not responsible for the content of these internet sites.
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