Letter To History Today Magazine

Editorial                               93c Venner Road,
"History Today"                                Sydenham,
20 Old Compton Street                   London SE26 5HU.
London W1V 5PE.                           0181 659 7713
                       E-Mail A_Baron@ABaron.Demon.Co.UK   

March 8, 1999


Marika Sherwood's article "LYNCHING IN BRITAIN" contains several 
serious distortions if not outright inaccuracies. She is correct 
when she defines a lynching as a mob action without due process, 
but most lynchings are (or hopefully were) the result of summary 
justice meted out by a mob which did not wait around for the 
courts, or, as for example in the case of Leo Frank, when a mob 
felt that the sentence passed by the court was too lenient and 
only execution would suffice.

Whilst we should all rightly deplore lynching, racially motivated 
murders, or alleged racially motivated murders, are no more 
lynchings than sex murders, or any other category of senseless 
violent crime.

On page 22 she, or the picture editor, reproduces a photograph 
taken outside the inquest on the Deptford Fire of 1980. In spite 
of repeated attempts by "anti-racist" groups to make political 
capital out of this tragedy there was never any evidence that 
this fire was politically or racially motivated and no conclusive 
evidence that it was arson. The best available evidence indicates 
that the fire was caused by someone at the party, and some years 
after the fire a report to this effect was in fact sent to the 
DPP. Deplorable though police attitudes can be at times, they 
were faced here with a wall of silence which severely hampered any 
efforts to get at the truth.

The murder of Stephen Lawrence 
was likewise no manner of lynching, and it is quite likely that 
if in this case the victim hadn't been black his assailants would have 
found some other excuse to kill him.

The case of "Uggie" Oluwale was a particularly sad one which I 
remember well although I was only 12 or 13 years old at the time. 
Uggie was a tramp who was beaten out of sheer sadism, and again 
it is quite likely that he would have suffered the same fate had 
he been white.

The claim that 39 blacks (presumably this means anyone who is not 
white) have died in police custody since 1971 is a meaningless 
statistic. As the non-white population of this country is now 
considerable it would be unreasonable to expect there to be no 
such deaths, and literally hundreds of thousands of people are 
arrested in this country every year. Deaths in police custody can 
mean almost anything, including people who die from alcohol 
poisoning, drug overdoses or even suicide. 

Finally, Marika Sherwood's reference to researcher Paul Gordon is 
a dead giveaway. Paul Gordon is, among other things, the co-author 
of "New Right, New Racism", which was published by Searchlight Publications 
in 1986. Miss Sherwood's article, like Mr Gordon's book, is a political 
polemic, and one unworthy of publication by a scholarly magazine.

Yours sincerely,
A Baron

Re the above, the Deptford Fire also known as the New Cross Fire or (disingenously as) the Deptford Massacre, actually happened in the small hours of January 18, 1981. Again, there has never been any credible evidence that the fire was caused by an outside agency; the best evidence is that it was a tragic if avoidable accident.

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