Blood on the Page: A Murder, a Secret Trial and a Search for the Truth by Thomas Harding - review by Marcel Berlins

Marcel Berlins

Mute Justice

Blood on the Page: A Murder, a Secret Trial and a Search for the Truth


William Heinemann 338pp £20 order from our bookshop

Rarely can such an injustice have been noticed by so few people. How many have even heard of Wang Yam, still in prison serving a life sentence for murder? Some might remember the man whom he was alleged to have killed. Allan Chappelow was once, many decades ago, slightly if not widely known for his books about his idol, George Bernard Shaw, and as a talented photographer.

Thomas Harding has chosen tough terrain on which to expose a grave and significant flaw in our system of criminal justice. The victim and his alleged killer were known to few. Neither of them evoked much pity or sympathy. The crime itself was sordid. The general public was hardly aware of the murder or of the subsequent trial and other legal consequences. Only The Guardian and Camden New Journal bothered to follow the case closely.

Harding has had a difficult task for precisely the same reason that caused the injustice in the first place: in a word, secrecy. Chappelow was eighty-six when he was savagely beaten to death in the house in Hampstead he’d lived in for most of his life, the last

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