Harry Fletcher: Probation Service

“It was a simple case of self-defence”

The above quote was attributed to Harry Fletcher of the National Association of Probation Officers in an article on Ram published in the September 26, 2000 issue of the Asian Times.

In December 2000, I wrote to Mr Fletcher in connection with this alleged quote but received no reply. I managed eventually to contact him by telephone on January 31, 2001, and we had a long conversation.

He didn’t recall receiving my letter but was most affable, saying that a number of people had written to him about Ram over the years. With regard to the quote, he said that he didn’t recall making it, but that he may have said something like that years ago. Like Ram’s own solicitor, he was not particularly impressed with the man himself, and said that he had contributed toward his predicament by his disruptive behaviour and by failing to come to terms with his guilt (my words).

He said he had read the case papers, and from what he could see it was just a brawl between two men. This was clearly not the case, and it left me wondering what papers exactly he had read.

Although he had heard of Ram’s first appeal, he said he didn’t know about the second appeal. He said he hadn’t had any real contact with the case since 1993, although he had been contacted by the campaign in 1998 or 1999 (he was uncertain about the date). As Ram’s second appeal was dismissed in November 1995, this shows that he wasn’t au fait with the case in any meaningful sense.

Of Ram’s sentence, he said that Ram would have been released on licence by 1998 at the very latest if he’d accepted his guilt and got on with his sentence. This claim though is based on Mr Fletcher’s mistaken belief that Ram had murdered Clarke Pearce in the course of a fight, which might of course have been construed as borderline manslaughter.

An interesting point he made though concerned the witnesses who were not called at the trial. He said they may have added weight to Ram’s defence, although from what he knew the verdict might have been the same even if they had been called.

A further point he made was that at the time - the 1980s - the attitude of the judiciary was “how dare you not speak English in my courtroom”. Nowadays there would have been interpreters.

Taking into account all of the above, the quote attributed to Mr Fletcher by the Ram campaign: “It was a simple case of self-defence”, is yet another conscious and cynical attempt to hoodwink the public.

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