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Voice 35 Years: Reward to solve 'murder' mystery

PLIGHT: The Voice ran its lead story on its offer for information regarding
Colin Roach’s death

THE VOICE newspaper took the lead role in trying to solve the mystery around the suspicious death of Colin Roach 35 years ago by offering a £1,000 reward for information in the hope that it would later lead to a conviction.

This was its front page headline in the 23rd edition of the newspaper which was published on February 12, 1983. Twenty-one year old Colin Roach died inside the foyer of the Stoke Newington Police station, north-east London, on the night of January 12, which the police claimed was suicide as a sawn off shot gun was found beside his body.

However, Colin’s family and protest groups questioned this account and demanded a full scale public enquiry into the young man’s death. The Voice had covered the story intensely in its previous issues and its front page headline in this latest edition one month later spoke of its reward incentive. The Voice story said there was widespread suspicion among the black community that Colin’s death was not suicide, but no evidence had yet emerged that would convict any third party, hence its offer of a reward.

Meanwhile, a second story on the front page reported that a row had broken out over a Greater London Council (GLC) grant to the Roach Family Support Committee for assistance in the campaign for a public inquiry into the death of Colin, after the Tory members blocked the aid citing Labour member Paul Boateng’s connection to the law firm Benedict and Birmberg and Co who
were acting for the family.

Under the headline ‘Colin’s family appeal for inquiry – aid blocked’, the story, which started on page one and continued on page three, revealed that Tory member James Lemkin had sent a formal letter of complaint to the GLC chairman stating that Boateng should not have taken the chair or indeed any part in the committee dealing with the Roach family. Responding to the accusations of whether there was a conflict of interest, Mr Boateng denied knowing of any. Boateng said his firm had no financial interest whatsoever in the outcome of the grant application.

He told The Voice: “I would not be working on the case for my firm.”

AID: Page three detailed how the Roach family were denied aid

In support, Mr Lester Lewis, chairman of the Hackney Black People’s Association, said: “It does not surprise me that the Conservatives on the GLC are trying to block the grant. The Tories have a record of racism and oppression of black people.”

Over on page two, The Voice carried a picture of Hackney’s Mayor Sam Springer, who had paid a visit to the newspaper’s office in Mare Street. The caption under the picture said Mr Springer, who still continues in his job with London Transport, also finds time for his official engagements as Mayor and informal visit to friends such as The Voice.


On page three, one of the many stories on the page focused on a recent meeting in Notting Hill between the police and community representatives to discuss policing in the area.

The headline read ‘The Hill Street Blues’ and reported that about 70 people from the community, led by Frank Critchlow from the Mangrove Association, met with police representatives to discuss a number of issues, including the over policing methods employed by police. Local councillor Ben Bousquet was reported as saying that the popular All Saints Road is not a problem.

“There is a section of people who believe that if you took all the black people harassed by the police and moved them out of the area the problem would go away,” he said.

“It wouldn’t. It’s a political problem and should be sorted out politically.

“Local councillors, MPs and local businessmen should get together and solve problems like housing and unemployment.”

The news coverage on page five included a picture caption story under the headline ‘Classy Clothes Competition’, which reported that Sandra and Shirley Dean, the two lucky winners of The Voice designer clothes competition, had finally collected their made to measure outfits.

The presentation was made at the Haute Couture fashion house Jeunesse et Or, which had created the girls' outfit. Sandra had chosen a spectacular gold metallic evening outfit while her younger sister Shirley opted for a more sober and very elegant two piece pin-striped suit.

Also on the page was a picture of Musical Youth, who were heading off to Jamaica onboard an Air Jamaica flight to the homeland they had never seen. The Voice reported that the Birmingham-based singing group was flying out to Montego Bay, where they intended to film a video for their next single and soak up the sun.

STARDOM: Musical Youth get set to head off to Jamaica on page five

The lead story on page seven carried the headline ‘Couple denied licence due to fear of Caribbean customers’, which reported on the plight of Jean and Con Fairclough, the owners of a pub in Peckham, south London, who were denied a licence application to turn an old entertainment building into a restaurant, which would attract Caribbean customers.

The couple wanted to open the Consort Diners Restaurant Club in Consort Road, but faced objections from some of the Tenants Association in the area and a neighbour three doors away who saw himself as a ‘public objector’. The main objections to the
restaurant were inadequate parking facilities, the assumed Caribbean customers and the noise.

The couple, however, said none of these objections were justified as they received planning permission and did all the required work.

The Voice is celebrating its 35th birthday this year. Share your Voice memories, comments and birthday wishes on social media, using the hashtag #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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