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Voice 35 Years: Fight for the 'truth'

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Gene Anthony Ray, right, with Debbie Allen and Carlo Imperato, was allegedly the victim of a racist attack

JAMES ROACH, who was arrested and charged by the police during a demonstration demanding a public enquiry into his son’s death, was cleared of those charges at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court in what The Voice newspaper described as “trumped up charges”.

The Voice headline on its front page on June 4, 1983 read: ‘Colin’s father cleared’.

The Voice’s report of the trial followed on from its extensive coverage of Colin Roach’s death in January of that year inside the foyer of the Stoke Newington Police station from alleged self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The police claimed Colin had committed suicide, while his family and friends questioned this account.

Police and black youths clashed in a number of demonstrations in the months after and it was at one of these demonstrations that James Roach was arrested and charged.

At his trial, the prosecution witnesses claimed that police waiting in vans were sent into the demonstration in King-smead High Street making arrests and bringing it to a halt.

Two police officers described how they drag one demonstrator off the van leading the march and Mr Roach held on to to one of the officers telling him not to arrest the demonstrator, before he too was also arrested.

However, the story and the police case fell into ruins when two sets of photographs of Mr Roach’s arrest were produced in court, which showed him surrounded by police, and neither the demonstrator nor the two police officers are anywhere to be seen.


Other witnesses, including his daughter Pauline, backed up the photographic evidence.

The second story on the page, headlined ‘Psychopath jailed’, reported that 24-year-old Garfield Williams was committed to Broadmoor Hospital for life after being found guilty of manslaughter when he threw a four-year-old white boy off a fifth floor block of flats in Stonebridge, north London.

The Voice report said Williams was described at the Old Bailey as a dangerous psycho-path who became angry when the boy rode his bike on the same bloke they shared in St Raphael’s Estate.

Williams lifted the child and threw him over the balcony edge. Williams had had a number of previous convictions including rape, burglary and indecent assault. One of the barristers in the case said Williams was at liberty in the first instant due to lack of foresight on the part of the authorities.

Over on page three, a number of stories covered news from overseas and the UK, including report of a fire at the New York home of Fame TV star Gene Anthony Ray which might have been started deliberately in a racist attack.

A second story under the headline ‘US diplomats kicked out’ said the government of Guyana, then headed by prime minister Forbes Burnham, had ordered two US diplomats to leave the country for stirring up industrial unrest at the bauxite town of Linden.

While another story at the bottom of the page reported that popular reggae DJ king Yellowman was set to play in the UK for the first time at the Capital Music Festival.

The lead story on page four, headlined ‘Labour woo black voters’, indicated that the party was focused on increasing its chances of winning the general election on June 9, 1983 by trying to gain black and Asian votes, with promises to repeal the 1981 Nationality Act and to work towards stamping out racial disadvantage for black Britons.

The story was accompanied by a photograph of Shadow Home Secretary Roy Hattersley who said “the Labour Party is committed to repealing the racist 1981 Nationality Act and replacing it with a statement of citizenship.”

The Voice is celebrating its 35th birthday. Share your memories, comments and birthday wishes on social media using the following hashtag #Voice35Years. Each week we will be digging into The Voice archive and publish a front cover from its first year of publication.

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