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The Voice at 35: Lecturer's fight to be reinstated

CHAMP: Lloyd Honeyghan was feeling dizzy about the way his professional career had taken off so quickly

THE BRUTAL murder of an unidentified black youth whose headless and armless body was found on waste ground in east London was the lead story featured on the front page of The Voice on April 23, 1983, the 32nd edition of the weekly newspaper 35 years ago.

‘Murder mystery–youth found brutally mutilated in East End’ was the headline above the story which reported that dustmen had stumbled on the body in Heckford Street, near Limehouse, at around 10 o’clock in the morning.

The Voice story said at first the dustmen thought the body was a tailor’s mannequin before they realised it was a corpse and immediately called the police. A police statement said the unidentified black youth was about 14-years-old age and initial police investigations ruled out gangland revenge killing as some newspapers were reporting at the time.

Also on the front cover was a picture of 19-year-old Marcia Johnson who was expected to go up against other contestants in the Miss Black and Beautiful Model of Year ’83 competition at the Cora Hotel. The buyer’s assistant from Wembley was representing the newspaper’s Young Voices Club at the gala show for aspiring models.

Under the headline ‘Title hope’, the story said that one of Marcia’s ambitions was to be a successful model, but also high on her wish list was to travel the world, visiting exotic places like the Far East, Africa and the Caribbean.

Over on page two, ‘Staff withdraw from police college’ was the lead story headline that reported that Brent Council’s education committee had decided to pull all council staff from Hendon Police College in protest over the police refusal to reinstate sacked lecturer John Fernandez.

The Voice article said that following a meeting between the leader of the council and the teachers union, council leader Martin Colemen said: “I am disappointed at [the union’s] failure to do anything positive to ensure the reinstatement of John Fernandez to his position at the Hendon College and what appears to be their apathy towards changes in the anti-racist course of the cadets curriculum.”

The article also revealed that since Mr Fernandez was suspended and later sacked, he had conducted a campaign against the unfairness of his situation.
But the centre of the dispute seemed to have shifted from the head of the police college and the staff to his own union which not only seems disinterested in backing him, but adamant to shun him and his fight against what could be termed as ‘institutionalised racism’.

Turning over to page three, a variety of stories dominated the page including a report of a suspected suicide on the Shurland Estate in Peckham, south London and the family of 13-year-old schoolboy, Leonard Lancelott, publicly accusing a police constable of stabbing him in the chest during an incident on All Saints Road in Ladbroke Grove.
One of the more interesting stories on the page carried the headline ‘Most mugging victims are black’ which reported on the startling finding by Camden Council that black residents are two to three times more likely to be mugged than white people, contradicting Home Office figures.

The Voice article said the Home Office figures were issued after a parliamentary question from right-wing Tory MP Harvey Proctor. Chris Adamson, Community Officer in Camden, said: “One would have thought the Home Office learned its lesson last year.
“Releasing figures in this manner leads to violence on the streets and black people being unfairly singled out.”

On page five, the lead story carried the headline ‘Grenada discovered CIA plot to over- throw government’ and reports that Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop had appealed for weapons and all able-bodied people to help the militia combat American-financed dissident groups whose aim was attempting to defeat his government.

The article also stated that Bishop announced in his radio broadcast that Grenadian intelligence services had discovered the identities of a number of CIA agents, actively involved in training and engineering mercenary groups plotting to oust the government.
It was months later in October 1983 that the US-led invasion of Grenada resulted in the overthrow of the Bishop Government and he along with three members of his cabinet were later executed by a ring squad of the People’s Revolutionary Army.

Over on page 27, newly-crowned British welterweight boxing champion Lloyd Honeyghan was feeling dizzy about the way his professional career had taken off that year.

Under the headline ‘Champ Lloyd has that dizzy feeling’, the story said Honeyghan started the year ranked number 14, but after beating tough Midlander, Cliff Gilpin, for the vacant title at the Albert Hall, he was crowned champion.

On winning the title, Honeyghan said: “It was tough. I didn’t expect to be British champion this season, but I got the break and took my chance.

The Voice is celebrating its 35th birthday this year. Share your Voice memories, comments and birthday wishes on social media, us- ing the following hash tag: #Voice35Years. Each week we will be digging into The Voice archive and publish a front cover from its first year of publication as we look back over 35 years.

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