25 April 2000
Martin court probes ‘nobbling’ claim
By FWi staff
COURT officials in Norwich are examining suggestions that the jury in the murder trial of Norfolk farmer Tony Martin was “nobbled”.
Mr Martin was last week sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 16-year-old Fred Barras during a break-in on his farm at Emneth, near Wisbech.
According to the Daily Mail, the judge in the case refused a plea before the case began for jurors to receive protection.
Mr Martins lawyers asked that the six men and six women should be brought to Norwich Crown Court in police vans. The application was refused.
Lawyers representing Mr Martin are now expected to appeal against his conviction by Friday (28 April), according to other media reports.
Meanwhile, Scotlands Daily Record reports that the government is planning to invest millions of pounds into rural policing.
“There has been massive support for [Mr Martin], with calls for his conviction to be overturned,” says the paper.
But an editorial in The Guardian says that “a load of palpable nonsense has been talked about rural crime since the verdict in the Martin case”.
The Tony Martin case “is probably not even relevant to the question of policing rural areas,” adds the paper.
“Government ministers would be well advised to squash any attempts by the Tories or those professionals of panic in the right-wing press to boil it up into some farmyard-odiferous rural crisis.”
In its editorial, The Express calls for guidelines to establish how far an individual can go to protect private property.
But any procedures should fall short of advocating violence as Tory shadow home secretary Anne Widdicombe has done, it adds.
Ms Widdicombe said on Monday (24 April) that householders should be given greater leeway to use force to protect their property, reports the paper.