A ZEST for life settles uneasily on those who have been robbed of

freedom, but yesterday's first signal of a new beginning for the

Guildford Four was one of exuberance -- four pink carnations thrown

emotionally from the dock towards the public gallery, the press, and the

judiciary by each of the appellants so wrongfully imprisoned for almost

15 years in British jails.

The jigsaw of justice which had fallen into place, the phrase used by

Lord Donaldson as he sentenced them to life in 1975, had, in a matter of

hours, been shattered irrevocably. In quiet, unexpressive tones Lord

Chief Justice Lord Lane quashed the convictions for murder because of

newly discovered evidence which indicates that investigating Surrey

Police officers must have lied at the time of the Old Bailey trial.

At the start of yesterday's proceedings senior prosecutor Mr Roy

Amlot, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, had stated that the

evidence now available revealed five officers had seriously misled the

trial: three by concocting notes and two by falsifying times of


By 2.10pm Lord Lane, in his summing up, favoured no euphemisms and

gently chided Mr Amlot for the use of ''a rather anodyne phrase''. The

officers, he emphasised, ''must have lied''.

And so, back in the Old Bailey almost 15 years to the day of those

convictions, Paddy Armstrong, Carole Richardson, Paul Hill, and Gerard

Conlon were vindicated, the horror of trapped innocence with no recourse

being over at last and the grave miscarriage of justice.

But for the Crown's mistake there was no outright apology, only Lord

Lane's low key observation that the painstaking and perspicacious

investigations of the Avon and Somerset Police force had salvaged

something from ''this unhappy matter''.

Earlier in the hearing cheers overtook relatives and campaigners in

the public gallery as Mr George Carman, QC, representing Carole

Richardson, said that in the light of the new evidence, he ''thanked God

we do not have capital punishment''.

Of the four falsely convicted, Ms Richardson, the only one who is

English, remains physically the most unchanged. Her long hair is still

in the same straight style as at her trial, her eyebrows are still

thinly plucked, but her strong angular face belies a dependency on

tranquilisers, the legacy of her drug addiction adolescence.

She met Patrick Armstrong when she was 17 and living in London squats

as a refuge from a tempestuous home life. Today, she of the four is

perhaps the most terrified by freedom. A sufferer of mood swings between

good humour and depression, she is known to be a vulnerable spirit whose

time at Styal Prison has allowed her to indulge a love of animals,

caring for the jail's chickens and goats.

As recently as 1986 her letters to friends still reflected a stark

hopelessness about her situation: ''What hurts most,'' she wrote, ''is

that nothing is different now to what it was 10 or 12 years ago.

''The evidence, or should I say lack of it, is still the same. All

that's changed is the people telling it. Unfair isn't a strong enough

word for what I feel about it all, but I can't think of another one.''

Significantly yesterday Ms Richardson and Mr Armstrong left the court

together by a less crowded exit, supported by a few of his relatives

from the Divis Flats neighbourhood of Belfast. In Mr Armstrong's case

every year of his imprisonment seems to have eaten into his appearance.

The aimless, plump-faced youth with long hair who was sentenced on

October 22, 1975, is now gaunt-eyed and introspective looking, the

victim of a nervous breakdown last year and still being prescribed


Gerard Conlon, like the others, was living the life of a drifter

sustained by drink, drugs, and petty crime when he was arrested. But of

the four, he seems the most ebullient. He arrived in court yesterday

wearing a Harvard University sweatshirt and giving a thumbs up gesture

to his family.

Later he changed into a new shirt brought by his sisters and he was

the only member of the group to pause outside the Old Bailey and,

shaking with emotion, reaffirm his innocence: ''I've been in prison for

15 years for something I didn't do. Something I knew nothing about. I'm

totally innocent.

''I watched my father (Giuseppe Conlon, convicted with the Maguire

Seven) die in a British prison. He is innocent. Let's hope the

Birmingham Six and the Maguire Seven are now freed.''

There was a clenched fist salute but the image of an individual

convulsed by profound and confused emotions. In court Mr Anthony

Scrivener, Mr Conlon's QC, had, on behalf of his client, thanked the

judiciary and all those who had supported his case through the years.

But some indication of the strain Mr Conlon and Mr Armstrong were

feeling in yesterday's ordeal was evident in their absence from the news

conference held at the House of Commons later. Both were too exhausted

to attend.

Paul Hill, the most emaciated of the four, remains unfree, his Old

Bailey conviction quashed but his Belfast conviction for the murder of a

soldier still remaining, although grave doubt is now also cast on the

authenticity of its evidence. For his rebellious behaviour in various

jails Hill has spent almost four years in solitary confinement, he has

lost more than three stones in weight and suffered persistently from

stomach ailments.

His aunt, Mrs Theresa Smalley, claims he is suffering from a broken

cheek bone that requires immediate surgery and is the result of being

beaten up in prison after the last IRA bomb outrage at Deal.

That disclosure offers just one insight into the dreadfulness of this

incarceration saga. Another is the relevation by Hill's lawyer Mr

Michael Fisher that his client heard about this week's appeal when he

was woken ''at gunpoint'' in his cell on Tuesday morning with the news.

A year last February Paul Hill married Marion Savaralli, a purchasing

manager with a paper mill in New Jersey. The marriage ceremony was a

Roman Catholic one and took place with Hill in full morning dress in

Albany Prison on the Isle of Wight.

Because of the grave illness of her father, Marion Savaralli was not

in court yesterday to support her husband whom she has met less than

half a dozen times. Their friendship grew through correspondence after a

mutual friend had put them in touch. She now intends to travel to

Britain next week and eventually she hopes to find work for him in


The Guildford Four, rootless and pathetic drop-outs, most of them from

the ugly mayhem of Belfast in the early seventies, were the first people

arrested after the introduction of the Prevention of Terrorism Act in

November 1974. They were the first to be held under the PTA for seven

days and to be denied legal representation until the end of the period.

Whatever the implications for the PTA of this case, it should never be

forgotten that Mr Armstrong, Ms Richardson, Mr Conlon, and Hill have

been not only the victims of a grievous miscarriage of justice but also

victims of the IRA. On a frieze outside Court Two in the Old Bailey are

the words: The Welfare of People is the Supreme Law. This time there is

no violence or hideous slaughter to condition our responses to justice.

Only anger and shame.

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Old Bailey anger

Tears of joy2

Leader Comment14

Police role15