A former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer is backing a high-profile campaign to free a Welshman who protesters believe has been jailed wrongly for beating to death four people in one of the worst murders in UK legal history, The Eye can reveal.
The news comes amid our exclusive revelation that the present leader of the Labour party has now been sent a file about this and other cases.
John McDonnell, MP, held the key shadow chancellor role for five years until 2020, and was a crucial ally of former opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, MP.
He is now supporting the move to free David (Dai) Morris who was jailed in 2002 for the murders in the village of Clydach near Swansea.
Today’s Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, MP, has also been drawn into the growing controversy about the safety of the conviction.
Sir Keir has been sent a dossier of recent cases in Wales after representing Michael O’Brien who was wrongly convicted of murdering the Cardiff newsagent Phillip Saunders, and he tells him that lessons have still not been learnt.
Sir Keir is asked to pay close attention to the case of Morris, who was jailed in 2002, and Mr O’Brien informs him he believes that this is another wrongful conviction.
Mr O’Brien thinks he may now take up the case as he was victorious in suing South Wales Police (SWP) for “Malicious prosecution in 2008”, after his own 11 year spell in prison.
The man he believes is innocent, Morris, was given four life sentences in 2002, following the brutal murders of an elderly disabled woman, her daughter and two young grandchildren.
After a jury found him guilty of using a heavy pole to beat the family to death, a judge said that Morris, who was aged 52 at the time, of Craigcefnparc, should never be released.
He was labelled “probably one of the most dangerous people in the United Kingdom” by the prosecution in one of the two trials in which he was found guilty.
But concern has mounted among campaigners about SWP after the number of miscarriage of justice cases over the last few years.
Some have been highlighted in the BBC Panorama film Fair Cops? which the Editor of The Eye Phil Parry presented.
Mr O’Brien has writen to Sir Keir saying: “Attached is a dossier of Miscarriages of Justice which has occurred in Wales Since 1982- 2016. Since you won my case against the police for Malicious prosecution in 2008 O’Brien v South Wales Police lessons have not been learnt and draw your attention to my dossier and in particular the case of David Morris who was wrongly convicted of the Clydach murders in 2002 and Joe Fettah in 2016”.
A further letter to Sir Keir was written by Morris himself, although he has been prevented from sending it.
Apart from being leader of the opposition party, Sir Keir is also a top lawyer and a former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as well as head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
He is viewed as a hugely important figure by protesters such as Mr O’Brien.
The campaign to free Morris appears to be gathering momentum and other television programmes about the case are in the pipeline.
A support group on Facebook (FB) now has more than 20,000 members, the film presented by Mr Parry is on YouTube, a protest rally has been held, and graffiti backing Morris has appeared on buildings in Swansea.
Over two years ago, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) told Morris his case wasn’t currently considered appropriate for appeal, despite years of lobbying by his family
The same year, retired Swansea solicitor, John Morris (no relation), published a book about the case – The Clydach Murders – which claimed that Morris was not the murderer and could not have killed the four, because of a lack of evidence linking him to the scene.
In December, campaigners rallied in Swansea calling for his release, with scores of protesters gathering at Castle Square in the city centre carrying green and yellow balloons and ribbons, handing out leaflets as they chanted “Free Dai Morris”. Their ultimate aim was to raise political awareness (and may now have succeeded) in the hope of forcing the case back open.
The month before, the campaign had been launched to demand Morris’ freedom, with ribbons of the same colour on cars in the city.
Geraint Evans, who helped to run the group, said at the rally: “There’s massive support for him (Morris), not only in Swansea but across the UK.
“The members (of the group) just keep growing and at the moment we are getting between 200 and 300 a day.”
Donna Hayes, from Penlan, said she was at the rally to “raise awareness” of the campaign.
“I believe that Dai is innocent”, she told reporters. “I don’t know the family but I feel strongly that he should not be where he is”.
Also at the event was Mr O’Brien himself, who was slated, too, as one of the speakers at a meeting in support of Morris which was planned for March but had to be postponed because of the crisis over Covid-19.
Mr O’Brien was one of the so-called Cardiff Newsagent Three who was released following another TV programme presented by Mr Parry called ‘A Night to Remember’, this time in the BBC Cymru Wales TV Current Affairs strand ‘Week in, Week Out’ (WIWO), which has now been scrapped in favour of BBC Wales Investigates.
Mr O’Brien was handed a life jail sentence for a murder he did not commit after being found guilty in 1988 of killing Cardiff newsagent Phillip Saunders. Following the WIWO, his conviction was quashed in December, 1999.
Over a few short weeks the social media group calling for the release of the man he is now campaigning to be freed, Morris, went from hundreds of members to several thousand.
They have also now received support from a political heavyweight, and another has been sent a file about the case, adding to the campaigners’ belief that SWP have another miscarriage of justice on their hands…
Tomorrow – the destruction of a ‘comedian’s’ so-called ‘neutrality’ as he starts a new media service in Wales and his support for an illegal action, after he made sick ‘jokes’ about a murdering gunman.
The memories of Phil’s extraordinary 37-year award-winning career in journalism (including the murder case involving Mr O’Brien) as he was gripped by the rare crippling neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!