Two men jailed on word of UK's 'most corrupt cop' could have convictions quashed

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Corrupt copper Derek Ridgewell (Image: Mirrorpix)
Corrupt copper Derek Ridgewell (Image: Mirrorpix)

Two men who were jailed on the word of the country’s most corrupt cops could have their convictions quashed.

Saliah Mehmet and Basil Peterkin were two of an unknown number of Brits who were the victims of corrupt and racist copper DS Derek Ridgewell. But now they could see their convictions quashed after the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) referred their cases for a review.

Ridgewell was one of the UK’s most corrupt officers, and was at large in the 1970s and 80s. He repeatedly framed innocent people, often men from BAME backgrounds, for crimes that didn’t happen, or that he committed. It isn’t known just exactly how many people Ridgewell put behind bars with his investigations or evidence, but the cases of Mr Mehmet, and Mr Peterkin marked the tenth and 11th referrals related to the disgraced British Transport Police Officer.

Two men jailed on word of UK's 'most corrupt cop' could have convictions quashed rriddqixxiqezinvBasil Peterkin (PA)
Two men jailed on word of UK's 'most corrupt cop' could have convictions quashedSaliah Mehmet (PA)

Tragically, both men are dead, and passed with their convictions hanging over their heads. But these convictions were potentially racially motivated miscarriages of justice, the CCRC warned. They only came to light due to an investigation by the CCRC who tracked down the families of the affected men to inform them of their right to appeal. This could lead to the cases being referred back to the Court of Appeal.

Ridgewell led the case against Mr Mehmet and Mr Peterkin, both British Rail workers, who were convicted in 1977 over the theft of parcels from the Bricklayers Arms goods depot in Southwark, south London - crimes it is now being questioned if they really committed. Ridgewell and two colleagues DC Douglas Ellis and DC Alan Keeling later pleaded guilty to stealing from the same depot.

Man in 30s dies after being stabbed in park sparking police probeMan in 30s dies after being stabbed in park sparking police probe
Two men jailed on word of UK's 'most corrupt cop' could have convictions quashedCriminal Cases Review Commission chairwoman Helen Pitcher (PA)

The bent cop died in prison in 1982 after being found guilty for conspiracy to steal mailbags - the same offence he secured convictions against Mr Mehmet and Mr Peterkin for. He made £364,000 stealing material from mailbags and splitting the profit with crooks.

Ridgewell framed the so-called Oval Four and Stockwell Six for their alleged crimes. It is understood there could be far more cases like this as more of Ridgewell’s convictions and evidence he supplied are brought into the light and challenged.

Mr Mehmet, who died in 2021, and Mr Peterkin, who died in 1991, and the ten others who stood trial all claimed items found in their possession had been planted, and any alleged admission of guilt had been fabricated by police.

Mr Peterkin’s children Basil, Janice and Lileith said: "Our father’s conviction was devastating for him and our whole family. He never got over it. He felt such shame that he left his home in the UK to try to start afresh.

"We now know that the officer who arrested our father was found guilty of the very crime he had accused our father and others of committing. That officer was corrupt. We want justice and we want our father’s name cleared."

Mr Mehmet’s children Regu, Arda and Onur said: "After fleeing war in Cyprus, our father started a family in this country. This conviction left him a changed man who never again trusted the police.

"It had a traumatic effect on our mother and our whole family for decades, including making us homeless. We are pleased and relieved that this case is going to the Court of Appeal. The behaviour of Ridgewell was atrocious, and we are hopeful that our father's name will finally be cleared."

Already, the four men referred to as the Oval Four and four of the six men known as the Stockwell Six have had their convictions quashed. Of the latter, one man was acquitted at trial.

Helen Pitcher OBE, Chair of CCRC said: "This case is another example of the thorough work the CCRC does to investigate potential miscarriages of justice. On top of considering more than 1,400 applications per year, our case review managers have used their investigative powers to track down family members of two men who may have died with unsafe convictions. We are continuing work to identify other potential applicants, I urge anyone else who believes that they or a loved one, friend or acquaintance was a victim of a miscarriage of justice to contact the CCRC - particularly if DS Derek Ridgewell was involved."

Kieren Williams

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