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Golden Dagger pierces secret murder trial.

(Posted on 08/11/18)


The elderly writer Allan Chappelow (pictured) was found dead in his Hampstead home in 2006. Chinese dissident Wang Yam was convicted of the murder after a second trial, closed to the media for reasons of national security.

A former researcher in Chinese nuclear weapons, Wang Yam came to the UK in 1992 as a refugee and is now known to have begun working for MI6.

Wang was “wrongfully convicted, I believe, in the sense that his guilt could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt,” wrote Geoffrey Robertson, Wang’s QC at his first trial, in the memoir Rather His Own Man.

Crime writer Duncan Campbell concurred: “Evidence from a near neighbour of the murdered man that he, too, had been the subject of a burglary and threats of murder when Wang Yam was already in custody, plus evidence of Chappelow’s excursions to the ‘spanking bench’ on Hampstead Heath, would almost certainly have led to his acquittal.”

“I was convicted for murder without even police have evidence that I know the deceased or ever met each other,” Wang wrote in the Guardian. “There is no evidence to link me with the deceased, even police burnt the crime scene by accident and there are unknown DNA, fingerprint, footprint.”

Claiming miscarriage of justice, Wang nevertheless lost his appeal last year.

“We do not know in the Wang Yam case what lay behind the gagging orders obtained by a home secretary and a foreign secretary,” said Richard Norton-Taylor, who reported on the original trail, “whether it was genuine concern about national security or merely determination to prevent embarrassment.”

Last month, Thomas Harding’s book about the case Blood on the Page won the Crime Writers' Association Golden Dagger award and leading human rights barrister Dinah Rose QC is now to take up Wang Yam’s cause.