* On October 24, 1969, Paddy Meehan was convicted of the murder of

Rachel Ross and sentenced to life imprisonment. Seven years later he was

released by Royal Pardon and an inquiry into the case was set up under

Lord Hunter. After five years of taking evidence Lord Hunter reported

his findings in July, 1982, that Meehan could not have committed the

murder, but may have been involved on the fringes. The latter theory has

been disputed by Ludovic Kennedy among others. Meehan has given his own

account of the affair in a book published this year in Spain, Framed By

MI5. Joe Beltrami, Meehan's lawyer throughout the Ayr murder trial and

subsequent appeal, has taken action to prevent the sale in bookshops of

Meehan's book on the grounds of libel. Now, Paddy Meehan offers his

personal response to Beltrami's own book on the case, A Deadly

Innocence, published today.

AS I read Joseph Beltrami's A Deadly Innocence -- his version of how I

came to be framed for the Ayr murder in 1969 -- I was somewhat surprised

that he now appears to accept that ''with the benefit of hindsight''

this ''extremely strange case . . . could have stemmed from some kind of

MI5 involvement''. He expresses himself convinced that even after my

release by Royal Pardon in 1976 our telephone conversations were being

tapped. But there are so many points on which Beltrami's version of

events differ from that set out in my book Framed by MI5 which -- due to

his threatened legal action against any bookshop that dares sell it --

the general public have been deprived of the opportunity of reading.

In his book Beltrami credits me with having a good memory.

Regrettably, I cannot return the compliment, for his book contains many

statements that are demonstrably not in keeping with the facts as they

are contained in the Hunter Report.

Although I do not at all times agree with Lord Hunter's

interpretations and final conclusions contained in his 1982 report, I

maintain that the four volumes of that report represent the most

authoritative source of available facts and testimonies on the case.

Lord Hunter was not prepared to accept the allegation made by Ludovic

Kennedy, Nicholas Fairbairn and others that a large number of senior

detectives entered into an ''elaborate plot'' to frame me and suppressed

the evidence against the men who committed the crime -- namely, William

McGuiness and Ian Waddell. But Beltrami's book fails to develop his own

suspicions of ''MI5 involvement'', and neither does he address the

conspiracy question in his attempts to explain this ''extremely strange

case''. He says nothing about the elaborate plot which surrounded the

rigging of the identity parade which led to my being charged with the


So how, then, can Beltrami justify the first paragraph in the foreword

to his book: ''What you are about to read requires to be publicised to

ensure that a number of facts of this celebrated case of Patrick

Connelly Meehan, unique as these are, should not disappear in the

passage of time.'' He then goes on to make numerous statements

throughout the book that are contrary to the established facts. Using

Hunter as my source, I intend to challenge several of these instances of


He was not, as he claims in his book, called into the case by my

former wife, Betty, as Betty will swear. My very good memory is

perfectly clear and is corroborated by the legal statements of two

Glasgow solicitors (Peter T. McCann and Cornelius McMahon) who attended

the rigged identity parade on Monday, July 14, 1969. After the parade,

and before I was charged with the murder, I asked these solicitors to

contact the well-known legal firm of Hughes Dowdall & Co., and have

Lawrence Dowdall take over my defence. My very good memory also tells me

that later that day, while I was in the police cells at Ayr, Beltrami

appeared out of the blue with the explanation that he had been called in

by the police, because Dowdall was on holiday.

I was disappointed when, in August, 1982, I read the Hunter Report and

found that while I was in solitary at Peterhead Prison in 1972 my

defence counsel, Nicholas Fairbairn, QC, MP (called into the case by

Beltrami) had written a secret memo to the Lord Advocate. I was

disturbed by one particular paragraph of that memo, quoted in the Hunter

Report (Volume Two, p. 688): ''If Meehan is innocent, I do not think it

would be other than very harmful to the public interest if the wrong

conviction of a notorious convict carried with it the conviction of a

police officer or officers of long standing and devoted service.'' How

one reconciles ''devoted service'' with perjury and the perversion of

justice is beyond my Gorbals' education. But don't look for Fairbairn's

secret memo in Beltrami's book. It's just not there.

Then again, in his book Beltrami claims that prior to my trial I told

him I suspected I was being framed by MI5. This is just not true. Prior

to my trial I did suspect that MI5 might be setting me up. But at no

time before my trial did I mention this suspicion to Beltrami or anyone

else. I did not even mention it to my wife or any member of my family.

It was not until August 4, 1970, that my suspicion of MI5 involvement

became a certainty and it was soon after this that I took the case away

from Beltrami. It was then that I caused a letter to be smuggled out to

Ludovic Kennedy advising him that I was convinced beyond any shadow of

doubt that MI5 had set me up. I have no doubt that Ludovic Kennedy will

still be in possession of that letter.

In his book Beltrami makes the amazing claim (a claim Lord Hunter

rejected) that it was not until well after my appeal was dismissed that

he first learned the identity of Waddell's accomplice in the crime,

William McGuiness -- the man who was stopped and questioned by the

police near the Ross house at the time of the murder. Before my trial I

sent Beltrami a defence sheet in which I first alerted him to

information I received in prison that McGuiness was present at the Ross

home at the time of the crime, and had been pulled up by the police. I

named McGuiness, and described him for Beltrami's benefit.

This note, of October 14, 1969, is also quoted in the Hunter Report

(Volume Two, p. 612): ''Wee McGuiness is William McGuiness. He is known

to me and goes in for tie-ups. His description five foot three, sandy

hair, thin built, about 42 years of age.'' So, Beltrami was in

possession of that information. I had instructed him the month before

(Hunter, Volume Two, p. 612) to go to Ayr and interview the police

officers who were on duty on the night of the crime in order to

determine whether a man had been stopped and questioned near the Ross

house at the time.

As Lord Hunter confirms, Beltrami failed to carry out my instructions.

Even more remarkable is Beltrami's explanation to Lord Hunter (Volume

Two, 7.140 p. 595) that, due to a mistake on his (Beltrami's) part, the

photograph of the wrong McGuiness was shown to the witnesses Mr and Mrs

Marshall of Ayr who saw two men acting suspiciously near the Ross house

prior to the crime. At Beltrami's request the police produced the

photograph of a man named Michael McGuiness who had no record for

tie-ups. At that time there was only one William McGuiness in all of

Scotland who was a known tie-up specialist, and he was well known to

Beltrami. It took seven years to show Mrs Marshall a photograph of the

William McGuiness named in my letter to Beltrami. She had no hesitation

in identifying it as that of one of the men she had seen near the Ross


Then we have Beltrami's claim that because of the solicitor/client

relationship which existed between himself and the tie-up specialist

William McGuiness he was barred from revealing any information regarding

McGuiness's involvement in the Ayr murder. Lord Hunter did not agree

(Volume Two, 8.18 p.648 and various other references in the Report) with

Beltrami's claim that there was a solicitor/client relationship between

him and McGuiness at the time in question. And over the past 10 years I

have failed to meet one lawyer, not one, who does agree with Beltrami's


At the time in question Beltrami was acting on my behalf and since it

was I who first gave him the information on McGuiness then he had a

clear duty to act in my interest. Before the death of McGuiness,

Beltrami had made it known to a number of people, including Ludovic

Kennedy, a couple of BBC journalists and my former wife, Betty, that he

knew William McGuiness had been Waddell's accomplice in the Ayr murder.

Lord Hunter emphasised time and again that Beltrami could not have

considered himself barred from revealing information concerning

McGuiness. He commented (Volume Two, p. 648) that Beltrami's proper

course, if he felt himself ''embarrassed'' by information implicating

McGuiness with the Ayr murder, would have been to cease acting for me,

and to allow someone else to act in my ''best interests''. There were

many times after August 4, 1970, when I first received information in

Peterhead Prison about the rigging of the identity parade, that I wished

Beltrami had heeded that advice.

In closing let me say how delighted I am to read in Beltrami's book

that he is very much in favour of the use of the truth drug in deciding

controversial issues. Wouldn't it be interesting if he and I appeared on

TV and submitted ourselves to being questioned under the influence of

the drug. The outcome would greatly assist the public whether to go into

any shop and buy Beltrami's A Deadly Innocence or stop me (when the

police are not looking) in Glasgow's Argyle Street centre market -- or

the Barras on a Sunday -- and buy a copy of my Framed by MI5.