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BBC Scotland's Reevel Alderson
"Nobody should be able to stand in the way of the investigations being carried out"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 29 August, 2000, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Ice cream wars papers 'closer to release'
Campbell and Steele
Campbell and Steele protest their innocence
The release of all prosecution papers in the Glasgow ice cream wars murder case has moved a step closer after a court ruling.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission went to court in an attempt to gain unprecedented access to all documents relating to the case.

It has been considering allegations by Thomas TC Campbell, 47, and Joe Steele, 38, that they were wrongfully convicted.

The men were found guilty of murdering six members of the Doyle family, including an 18-month-old child, by starting a fire in a tenement flat in Ruchazie, Glasgow, in April 1984.

Ruchazie fire
Six people died in the fire
They have always protested their innocence and, after several failed appeals, their case is now being examined by the commission.

Numerous requests have been made to the Crown Office for access to papers since May last year.

Scotland's senior law officer, the lord advocate, opposed the documents being handed over.

But on Tuesday Lord Clarke ruled in favour of the commission, saying that there was nothing in principle which prevented it from seeking the papers.

He said: "The commission have a statutory obligation to carry out a full, independent and impartial investigation into alleged miscarriages of justice.

"Legislation under which they act was clearly designed to give the widest powers to perform that duty."

Lord Clarke
Lord Clarke: Criticised Crown Office
In his judgement he was critical of the handling of the case by the Crown Office, but said a further hearing would be necessary before he granted the order.

The commission could refer the case back to the appeal court if it believes a miscarriage of justice took place.

Campbell and Steele were jailed for life after being convicted of murder 16 years ago after a 27-day trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

The killings were part of a violent war between ice cream van businesses in the east end of Glasgow.

The men lost an appeal, then an attempt to have fresh evidence heard was rejected on a split decision of three judges in 1998 after the then Scottish Secretary, Donald Dewar, referred the case to the appeal court.

Lost appeal

Their case has been under consideration by the review commission, which was set up to adjudicate on whether alleged miscarriages of justice should be referred back to appeal court judges.

The High Court in Edinburgh had earlier heard that after Campbell and Steele lost their last appeal their solicitors raised a new challenge with the Scottish secretary, which was handed over to the commission when it was set up.

The commission received some material from the Crown Office, but went to court seeking access to all documents relating to the case.

That move was opposed by the Crown.

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See also:

31 Jul 00 | Scotland
Court watchdog wants new powers
10 Jul 00 | Scotland
New move in ice cream wars case
11 Jun 99 | UK Politics
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