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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK
Silcott vows to clear name
Winston Silcott
In 1991 Winston Silcott was cleared of murdering Pc Blakelock
Winston Silcott, who was wrongly convicted of murdering a policeman during riots in north London, has vowed to overturn his conviction for the murder of another man.

Silcott walked free from Blantyre House open prison in Kent on Friday following a parole board decision that he was no longer a danger to the public.

He had served 17 years for the killing of boxer Anthony Smith at a party in east London in 1984.

In 1991 Silcott was cleared at the Court of Appeal of the murder of Pc Keith Blakelock who was hacked to death by a mob during the Broadwater Farm riots in Tottenham, north London, in 1985.

Outspoken critic

Speaking in an interview with BBC2's Newsnight on Tuesday, Silcott said the police had wanted to pin Pc Blakelock's murder on him because he was an outspoken critic of their methods.

"In those days they looked at me as a thorn in their sides as I was an outspoken about their tactics, how they policed in Tottenham.

"I feel saddened for Pc Blakelock's family. I think they've been misrepresented by the police because instead of doing their job properly on the day, they've just gone for a quick fix," he said.

Silcott, 43, was also critical of certain sections of the media who he said had tried to portray him as a "black monster".

"My family has been totally devastated. This sort of coverage has caused them ill health."

Somebody offered me a knife to defend myself and I took it...he was attacking me and I just lashed out
Winston Silcott

Asked about the stabbing of 24-year-old Mr Smith, Silcott said he had acted in self-defence and done what anyone would have in the same position.

He said: "Anthony Smith attacked me and the other two who were with him had knives drawn.

"Somebody offered me a knife to defend myself and I took it. He was attacking me and I just lashed out."

Silcott, who was formally released from jail on life licence on Tuesday, said he would attempt to have his conviction overturned by the Criminal Cases Review Commission or the European Court of Human Rights.

His friend and campaigner Stafford Scott said: "This was a day that many of us thought we'd never see.

"Winston has endured a dark period in the history of policing and the black community.

"He has been demonised by certain sections of the media. Somehow he has managed to rise above it all and retain his dignity."

Strict conditions

Another campaigner, Delroy Lindo, said: "Winston is the victim of two miscarriages of justice.

"The first, the Blakelock case, has been exposed. The same must now happen with the Smith case."

Silcott is expected to return to the Tottenham area and will be required to comply with strict licence conditions for the rest of his life.

Being officially freed on life licence means he could be sent back to jail if he commits another crime.

Silcott's brother George said: "The family have gone through hell while Winston has been in prison. When they convicted Winston they convicted us too."
I do believe that guilty people will be brought to justice and we will see people being punished for what they did to Keith
Elizabeth Johnson, Pc Blakelock's widow

It was announced last week that ministers and the Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf had approved the parole board decision that Silcott was no danger to the public.

Silcott is expected to take part in community work to steer young people away from crime.

His solicitor Tony Murphy said: "Winston now wishes to overturn his conviction and to make up for lost time with his family."

Awarded compensation

Silcott was accused of Pc Blakelock's murder while he was on bail awaiting trial for Mr Smith's murder.

He was convicted of PC Blakelock's murder in 1987.

But six years later he was cleared by the Court of Appeal as the conviction was seen as unsafe because of tainted police evidence.

Silcott was awarded 17,000 compensation by the home secretary for his wrongful conviction in the Blakelock case.

In 1999 he received a further 50,000 from the Metropolitan Police in settlement of a civil claim.

Pc Blakelock's widow Elizabeth Johnson, who has since remarried, said last week: "I do believe that guilty people will be brought to justice and we will see people being punished for what they did to Keith."




WATCH AND LISTEN
Winston Silcott
"He [Anthony Smith] was attacking me and I just lashed out"



SEE ALSO:
Silcott to be freed from jail
15 Oct 03  |  London
Silcott moved to open prison
21 Jun 02  |  England
Silcott freed from jail
20 Oct 03  |  London


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