My father, a long-serving member of Stirlingshire’s police committee, returned home in dismay that day in 1964 when 30-year sentences were handed down to the train robbers.
He said the chief constable believed such jail time, far beyond that normally given for murder, would increase armed robbery and might even lead to the police carrying guns.
Public perception that the sentences were unfair lay at the heart of the enduring sympathy for Ronnie Biggs, as well as producing a new and disturbing disdain for our judiciary.
Judges began to be mocked, starting with Peter Cook’s iconic summation of the Jeremy Thorpe trial, and on to the present derision at their “human rights” decisions. And an FBI admission after the Lockerbie trial, “We wouldn’t have gotten that [forensic evidence] past a jury”, implied such things could be slipped past three law lords.
(Dr) John Cameron
In response to the letter (20 December) criticising your use of the photograph of Ronnie Biggs (19 December), I rather thought that the “horrible” photo you printed was intended as a slur against him and showed not a hero but a broken down old lag not in his right mind. Which indeed is how he ended up – not much of a hero.
Watching the BBC’s drama, The Great Train Robbery, one glaring historical inaccuracy was evident, almost immediately. They got the police uniforms wrong. In the 1960s, all uniformed police officers up to the rank of inspector, in civilian forces, wore blue shirts. In both episodes of the programme, the constables were seen wearing white shirts.
If the BBC devoted so much time and effort to other details such as the vehicles featured, why did it overlook a basic anomaly like the police shirts? Perhaps none of the drama’s makers were around at that time.