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The BBC's John Andrew
"Hidden cameras showed heroin being sold on the premises"
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Tuesday, 11 July, 2000, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Jailed charity workers freed on bail
Wyner and Brock
Wyner with her husband (left) and Brock with his wife (right) outside the court
Two charity workers jailed for allowing heroin to be supplied at a homeless hostel have been freed on bail after being given leave to appeal.

Ruth Wyner, 49, former head of the Winter Comfort charity in Cambridge, and centre manager John Brock, 49, were convicted last December and sentenced to five and four years respectively.

Both have been given leave to appeal against their sentences, and on Tuesday their legal team, headed by Michael Mansfield QC, won the right to challenge the Cambridge Crown Court jury's decision to convict them.

Some charities are finding it difficult to get new staff because people are now too scared to do the work in case they end up in prison

Alexander Masters, Cambridge Two Campaign

They were warned by the Court of Appeal they might have to return to prison if they failed in their challenge to convictions of knowingly permitting the supply of heroin.

Their trial revolved around the issue of whether Wyner and Brock had a duty to inform on hostel residents they knew to be dealing in drugs, or whether the pair's duty to client confidentiality outweighed that.


Mr Mansfield said the case was of considerable importance to many people in similar management positions, including prison governors.

Court of Appeal
Supporters called the convictions a miscarriage of justice

He said it was unrealistic to expect a manager to report every instance of unlawful behaviour, otherwise "open door" hostels like Winter Comfort would be closed down and the homeless would be back on the streets.

The case has sparked outrage among homelessness and drugs charities and among MPs and academics who believe there has been a miscarriage of justice.

The pair's fate sent shockwaves through the homelessness sector with reports that other hostels began turning away drug addicts for fear staff might leave themselves at risk of prosecution.

Police said the Cambridge hostel had become a centre for drug dealing and that Wyner and Brock had knowingly turned a blind eye.

Supporters protest

The pair were arrested following an undercover police surveillance operation. A spy camera was trained on a courtyard belonging to the centre and officers posing as drop-outs visited on 12 occasions, buying heroin from dealers on eight visits.

But the jailing of Wyner and Brock has angered many charity workers, and supporters have staged marches, organised petitions and held vigils in ongoing attempts to win their freedom.

Supporters were staging the latest protest on Tuesday - five months after the pair were sentenced - by holding a vigil outside a church in Cambridge.

"Since the convictions, hostels and day centres are starting to turn drug addicts away so they can't get help to come off drugs," said Alexander Masters, chairman of the Cambridge Two Campaign.

"Some charities are finding it difficult to get new staff because people are now too scared to do the work in case they end up in prison like Ruth and John."

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