Stories from 1991:

Somebody is making a mess of my name

Published October 1991.

I have never liked my name. I’ve always thought it dull, but, on the other hand, it has never done me any harm. Now, however, nobody at all likes my name. Suddenly, it is mud of the nastiest sort, so nasty that it may well do me harm. Because my name also belongs to someone else.

The tangled case of Patricia Cahill and Karyn Smith

Published October 1991.

Stephen Ronald Jakobi, aged 56, Cambridge graduate, former trial lawyer, leading light of the London Solicitors Litigation Association, and expert in personal injury claims, knows a thing or two about the law.

Captain Jack’s Great Adventure

Published October 1991.

The strange tale of Captain Jack and the Great Adventure is the sort of story that would once have been made into a film by Ealing Studios. It is full of very English characters – the boatload of unlikely rebels striking out for freedom, the country vicar who joins them, the village policeman who helps them, and the man from the ministry who pursues them with his big book of little rules – and underneath all the slapstick and sentiment, the film would simply have asserted what every romantic rebel knows, that there is a special kind of freedom in daring to be different.

A lifeline on Death Row

Published September 1991.

Jane Officer did not think much of her driver. He was playing redneck country music on his radio, he had a big belly, untidy grey hair, a mouth full of chewing gum and he was determined to inflict his opinions on her.

Florence Siddons and the missing murderer

Published September 1991.

There is only a handful of ways in which an ordinary life can suddenly become flooded by limelight. One of them is murder. Another is scandal. Florence Siddons’ family has suffered both.

The woman who robbed building societies

Published July 1991.

It was a Tuesday morning. As soon as the bus stopped in the middle of Twickenham, she hurried out along the pavement with her bag on her arm, down towards the river, to the darkness of the ladies toilet there. The shops were full of people, most of them women, just like her.

The man who killed WPC Yvonne Fletcher

Published June 1991.

On Tuesday morning, April 17 1984, a 35-year-old decorator left the Rio Tinto Zinc building where he was working in St James Square, London to go to the bank to get some change for his parking meter. As he strolled across the road, he passed several dozen police officers clustered in one corner of the square and he caught the eye of a young woman constable.

War crimes – committed by the Allies

Published May 1991.

It is a familiar scene from the Nazi invasion of Western Europe: the captors with their heavy guns, casually cruel as they herd their ragged prisoners into the woods; the stronger victims given shovels and ordered to break the leafy soil; the machine guns made ready; the helpless captives with their heads bowed and their hands tied; and the eye witness who survives to tell the tale…

Homeless in Brighton

Published May 1991.

Brighton is a plump little town. In a survey last year, academics at Reading University analysed the wealth of all the major towns and cities of Europe and discovered that only 18 towns in the whole continent were richer than Brighton and that in the United Kingdom, there was none to match its wealth.

Laughing at racism

Published February 1991.

It was the day after the crime. Everyone in Conroe was talking about the report in the Courier: “Girl found slain at Conroe High. Police say teenager strangled.” Politicians and church ministers were pleading for calm. The captain of detectives was on television, disclosing that the girl had been raped by her killer. Her body had been taken to the morgue down in Houston.

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