فصل 17

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Chapter seventeen

Official pardon

‘Jensen!’ Dave Balzano shouted through the open door of his office. I looked at Rick and raised my eyebrows.

‘Oh dear,’ I said, ‘Sounds like our dear editor is in a bad mood.’

It was a couple of months after the Lovat-Murphy case had ended. I had just written my story on it and was waiting for Balzano’s judgement. Always a difficult time.

I left my computer and walked nervously over to Balzano’s office. If I was going to be in trouble, I might as well go and find out what it was. As usual the few steps over to his office seemed like three kilometres.

‘Come in and shut the door, Jensen,’ he said as I approached. This was even worse than I had thought. Perhaps I was going to lose my job. With Balzano you could never tell.

I sat down opposite Balzano and waited for the worst. He leant over the desk until his huge face was close to mine. He was sweating and I could see little drops of sweat running down his cheeks.

‘Jensen, this story,’ he said, waving my story at me.

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘You don’t like it…?’

‘Like it!’ he screamed. ‘I think it’s great. A very good piece of journalism, Jensen. I want it on the front page!!’

‘Oh. Well… good. I’m glad you like it… wonderful… er.’ For once I was lost for words. Balzano never failed to surprise me.

I took the article and went back to my desk. I smiled at Rick to let him know that everything was fine. I allowed myself to read my story one more time before it appeared on the front page of The Daily Echo with my name on it.

Official Pardon for Brendan Murphy by Kate Jensen

It is over thirty years since Brendan Murphy was hanged for the killing of John Blakeston in the London Road murder, a crime he never committed.

Yesterday Murphy was given a posthumous official pardon by the Home Secretary. The pardon comes after years of campaigning by members of his family and others, a campaign which has been supported by The Daily Echo throughout the long, sad history of this case.

Tony Jensen, the retired journalist who was involved in the reporting of the 1960 murder case and an ex-Echo reporter, led a team of researchers who finally managed to produce new evidence in the case. This new evidence comes from Manchester, where Brendan Murphy was at the time when the murder took place, selling stolen jewellery. Although this alibi came up after the hanging, defence lawyers were never able to prove it without doubt. Now, thirty-five years after Murphy was hanged, witnesses have agreed to swear to Murphy’s presence in Manchester, on condition that they will not be prosecuted for crimes committed in the past.

Brenda Lovat-Murphy who is serving a sentence in Durham Prison for murders connected with the clearing of her father’s name, said she was delighted at the official pardon. ‘This is the happiest day of my life,’ she said, It’s what I’ve wanted passionately since I first realised that my father was innocent.’

Lovat-Murphy is to be released from prison next year following a further campaign by civil rights campaigners and by this newspaper. Many people, including prison psychologists, believe that Lovat-Murphy will not commit further crimes now that her father has been pardoned. The murders she committed were entirely the result of her father’s wrongful hanging.

It will probably never be proved who the London Road murderer really was. Peter Benson, who confessed to the crime after Murphy was hanged, died in 1993.

Yes, it wasn’t bad, I thought. Then I thought about Dad, about how proud he was going to be that I would have my story on the front page. I sighed, sat back and smiled to myself, enjoying the moment. Suddenly I heard: ‘Jensen!!!! Stop sitting around. I’ve got another job for you!’

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