Letter to America: Proclaimers join campaign to free death-row Scot

Key quote "I'd like nothing better than for them to go and see Kenny, particularly for Kenny's sake. The death penalty is about politics more than law, so what we need to challenge that is support." - Clive Stafford Smith

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KENNY Richey, the Scot facing execution in a United States jail, is to receive support from one of Scotland's most famous musical exports.

The Proclaimers will appeal for Richey to be freed from death row at a charity concert in London on the 20th anniversary of the 43-year-old's incarceration, The Scotsman can reveal.

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Their manager has also revealed the brothers are hoping to visit Richey in the high-security jail in Ohio where he has spent most of the last two decades.

Craig and Charlie Reid have been following Richey's case closely and jumped at the chance to raise awareness of his plight when asked to perform at a fundraising concert for Reprieve, the human rights charity formed by Clive Stafford Smith, a lawyer who represents Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

Richey, originally from Edinburgh, was sentenced to death in 1987 after being convicted of murdering two-year-old Cynthia Collins, by setting fire to her mother's apartment in Ohio.

He has always denied any involvement and last year his conviction was quashed by a US court of appeal.

However, one of the grounds on which that decision was based was later rejected by the Supreme Court, crushing Richey's hope of an imminent release.

Mr Stafford Smith approached the Reid brothers at the start of the year about playing at the concert, being staged at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on London's South Bank on 5 June.

The precise format for the evening, which will also feature the rocker Steve Earle and comedians Mark Thomas and Stewart Lee, has still to be finalised, but it is likely each act will dedicate part of their performance to a prisoner on death row.

Kenny McDonald, who manages the Proclaimers, said: "Kenny's situation is something we have been speaking to Clive Stafford Smith about. It's something Charlie and Craig have taken a keen interest in.

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"They said they would be keen to get involved, whether to play in a concert to raise awareness or to visit Kenny.

"We left it at that and then, all of a sudden, the Reprieve concert came up. We haven't discussed exactly what they will do on the night but I'm sure they will talk about Kenny's situation. They've been aware of the case for a while and they do feel there's an element of injustice there."

He added: "Visiting Kenny is something they would be interested in doing, if it's felt it can benefit him in any way. It's something we will discuss with Reprieve when we get together with Clive at the Globe."

Mr Stafford Smith, who is representing 20 detainees in Guantanamo Bay, warmly welcomed the support from the Proclaimers.

"It's particularly good to get musicians and other people with different talents who are interested in helping Kenny out. I'm also a Proclaimers fan from way back so it'll be great fun," he said.

He went on: "I'd like nothing better than for them to go and see Kenny, particularly for Kenny's sake. The death penalty is about politics more than law, so what we need to challenge that is support.

"The support that comes from people like the Proclaimers singing a song for you is far greater than the support that comes from a lawyer."

Richey is awaiting a final ruling on his conviction from the Supreme Court, once the judges gain clarification on a legal question from the appeal court.

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Ken Parsigion, Richey's lawyer, last night said support from campaigners like the Proclaimers "means a lot to Kenny".

He explained: "He's been in jail for 20 years for a crime he didn't commit. It means something that people out there are supporting him.

"If the Supreme Court rules against him, we will have to ask for clemency from the governor of Ohio. This sort of support can only help his chances."

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