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Voice 35 Years: A fugitive tells his story about 'corruption

MAN ON THE RUN: Clockwise from top, James Daniels claimed that his flat had been bugged by police for compiling ‘evidence’ on corruption
within the police

AN EXCLUSIVE interview with a fugitive on the run after he escaped from the back of a police van on his way to court to face robbery charges was the lead story in The Voice on January 29, 1983 as the 21st edition of the newspaper went on sale.

However, the fugitive, James Daniels, a student charged with conspiring to rob a bank of half a million pounds and numerous robberies around town, believes he was fitted up on the charges by the police after he and a flatmate had set about compiling files on corruption within the police and how black people are harassed and badly treated by them.

In The Voice’s story, written by Asif Zubairy under the headline, ‘Don’t tell them where I am’, Mr Daniels explains that he was a student at Oxford Polytechnic – now Oxford Brookes University – studying law and politics, but feared that it was his extramural activities that led him to be a victim of police victimisation. Daniels’ trouble started the previous year, when he and Zimbabwean flatmate Zweyuika Mhendurwa had conducted a six month investigation where names of racist officers, secret police techniques on spying and various other sensitive information was collected. Soon afterwards, Daniels returned to his flat to find it ransacked and the files missing.

Over the next few days, both Daniels and his flatmate noticed that their home was being watched, and on one occasion, when he was summoned to his local police station, he believes, the police not only rifled his flat but planted bugging devices in there. Daniels told The Voice that, in the July, he was awoken by the sounds of heavy banging on his front door and on opening the door, he was rushed upon by a group of policemen with an arrest warrant in connection with a robbery in Tooting.

Daniels said he was beaten up severely over his three days in custody with the result that he was unable to walk properly. Daniels and six other defendants were charged but pleaded ‘not guilty’ and had to appear at court every week for their case to be heard and then adjourned. It was during one of these regular trips to the court that Daniels managed to escape from the back of the van and he went on the run.

Over on page three, The Voice followed up its lead story of the week before by dedicating a full page feature which looked at the news in more detail around the suspicious death of Colin Roach inside the foyer of the Stoke Newington police station earlier in January of that year.

DEMONSTRATION

The police claimed Roach had committed suicide, while his family and friends questioned this account. Under the headline, ‘Who killed Colin?’, the main story focused on the demonstration outside the Stoke Newington police station on January 17, 1983 by around 60 black youths demanding a public inquiry into Colin’s death.


JUSTICE: Page three focused on a demonstration outside Stoke Newington police station after the death of Colin Roach, with protestors calling for a public inquiry on his death

The story said the demonstrators had marched peacefully from Dalston Junction to Stoke Newington High Street, and that when they reached the police station, a confrontation between the youths and the police erupted. Seventeen demonstrators were arrested and charged for causing actual bodily harm to a police officer, threatening behaviour and obstructing the pavement.

Another story on the page reported on the meeting by the Hackney Black People’s Association at the Hackney Town Hall calling for an independent
enquiry into the alleged suicide of Colin Roach. The meeting was chaired by Pansy Adele and attended by the Mayor of Hackney, Sam Springer and other councillors.

The main points of the meeting included the discussion about the need for black people to organise properly and thus execute a peaceful march. In another article related to the feature, The Voice quoted Sam Springer as saying: “There are lots of questions that have not been answered and the only satisfaction that I think that those who are showing concern can get is a public inquiry.”

The lead story on page five centred on the news that British Airways was increasing its destinations in the Caribbean, with Jamaica and St Lucia benefiting the most from the extra flights announced. Another story on the same page noted that Bermudian beauty queen Heather Rose, who was facing charges of smuggling cocaine into Britain when she was arrested at Heathrow Airport, was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty of the charges when it came before court. The headline read, ‘The Mafia and Miss Bermuda’.


THROWBACK: Page five featured a story on then Miss Bermuda pleading guilty to smuggling cocaine into Britain

The lead story on page seven reported on the sad news that 13-year-old Eve Dzenryo had died in a blaze in her house in South Norwood after first
saving the lives of her mother, brother and three sisters. After the house was engulfed in flames which started from a burning candle, the young heroine dashed around the home rousing her family and helped them escape, but she ran back upstairs to get something and collapsed in the hallway. Firemen found her and when she was rushed to Mayday Hospital, medical staff were unable to save her.

The Voice is celebrating its 35th birthday this year. Share your Voice memories, comments and birthday wishes on social media, using the hashtag #Voice35Years. Each week we will be digging into The Voice archive and publish a front cover from its first year of publication as we look back over 35 years.

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