A PROFESSOR of psychology yesterday cast doubt on the reliability of 24 words which helped jail two men for life for murdering six family members in the notorious Ice Cream Wars.

Brian Clifford, professor of cognitive psychology at the University of East London, was giving evidence at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh on the first day of a fresh attempt by Thomas ''TC'' Campbell and Joe Steele to clear their names.

In a case which has haunted the Scottish legal system for two decades, it was the pair's third time in front of appeal judges, this time at the behest of the newly-created Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC).

Campbell and Steele were convicted of the murder of six members of the Doyle family, including an 18-month-old baby, in a fire which swept through the family's flat in Ruchazie, Glasgow, in 1984. However, both men have continued to protest their innocence.

The evidence led yesterday centred on the reliability of a 24-word statement, allegedly uttered by Campbell, written in the notebooks of four police officers at the time.

The statement included the phrase: ''I only wanted the van windaes shot up. The fire at Fat Boy's was only meant to be a frightener which went too far.'' He denied making it.

However, it was written in the notebooks of all four officers with a high degree of similarity, the court heard.

Professor Clifford said there was serious doubt surrounding the possibility that all the officers would have been able to recall the words in such an identical manner.

The expert, who specialises in memory and psycholinguistics, was asked by the SCCRC to carry out a study in 2001 into a number of statements relating to the case.

He carried out two studies, one in Scotland and one in England, using 131 participants. He tested their immediate ability to recall verbatim a phrase they had just heard.

The study found that they were, on average, able to recall verbatim between 30% and 40% of the words they heard. Even the highest-scoring participant was able to recall only 17 of the 24 words accurately.

Fourteen police officers were also included in the Scottish survey and the results showed their ability to recall phrases was not significantly different from that of the other participants. Nobody was able to remember 100% of the words they heard, the professor said.

On this basis, he concluded in his survey, it was ''improbable'' that the police officers would have been able to record Campbell's statement in such an identical manner.

Under questioning by Graham Bell QC, for Campbell, Professor Clifford said his studies ''strongly suggested it was not at all likely'' the four officers would be able to note the statement ''in such similar terms''.

His study also showed that it was unlikely the officers would be able to obtain such similar recall in the absence of any comparison or collaboration between them, the court heard.

''It must be considered that the reliability of the officers' evidence must be called into doubt, into question. Not one of the participants even came close to the recordability achieved by the police officers in the case under review.''

Campbell and Steele were convicted in April 1984. After a 28-day trial, which heard the killings took place against a background of a battle for control of the ice cream business, they were convicted of the murder of the Doyle family and jailed for life.

Referring to the murder charge at the original trial in 1984, Mr Bell told yesterday's hearing: ''There was no evidence that either of the accused, Campbell or Steele, were at or near the house when the fire started. The Crown case was one of complicity in starting the fire.''

He went on to tell the appeal judges that, at that trial, the Crown had relied on a statement in a pub, allegedly overheard by a prosecution witness, on the finding by police of a map in a briefcase at Campbell's home and on the statement said to have been made by Campbell to police after his arrest.

The hearing, before Lord Gill, the lord justice clerk,

sitting with Lords MacLean and Macfadyen, continues today.


Joe Steele, 39, was convicted of the murder of six members of the Doyle family in a blaze at their home in Ruchazie, Glasgow, in 1984 in the so-called Glasgow Ice Cream War killings, and jailed for life. Lost an appeal in 1985. Steele twice escaped from custody. He superglued himself to the gates of Buckingham Palace and staged a demonstration at Barlinnie jail where he climbed a tower. Lost appeal in 1997.

Thomas ''TC'' Campbell, 51, was convicted of the same murders and was jailed for life. Campbell conducted his own appeal in 1985, arguing misdirection by the judge, after he failed to obtain legal aid. He too lost. Campbell went on hunger strike. An appeal in 1997 failed, but the men were freed in December 2001 pending a fresh hearing.

Thomas Gray, 50, their co-accused, was jailed for 14 years for attempted murder during the ice cream wars. He is also appealing against his conviction. He has served his sentence and Lord Gill, the lord justice clerk, sitting with Lord MacLean and Lord Macfadyen, agreed to hear proceedings in his absence.

Andrew ''Fat Boy'' Doyle, 18, refused to give up his route to criminals targeting ice cream vans in the east end of Glasgow. The criminal gangs wanted them as a front for drugs and moving stolen goods. In February 1984, shots were fired through his windscreen. About six weeks later, a fire was started at the door of his top-floor flat in Bankend Street, Ruchazie, Glasgow. Mr Doyle and five other family members died.