Monday, February 14, 2005

Michael Howard's cousin and gangsters.

Why did Howard release two dangerous gangsters?

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,6903,1411777,00.html

Police are investigating Michael Howard's role in a royal pardon for two of Liverpool's most dangerous gangsters, John Haase and Paul Bennett, who were granted a royal pardon in July 1996 on Howard's orders.

The decision came 11 months into 18-year sentences.

The Metropolitan police is about to launch an investigation into the 'circumstances leading up to the granting of a royal pardon for these individuals'.

Was the Home Secretary duped into believing Haase and Bennett had provided vital information about arms caches across Liverpool, arms they had arranged to be planted themselves?

Michael Howard's cousin, Simon Bakerman, is an associate of Haase. Bakerman was released from prison on the day Howard became leader of the Conservative Party in November 2003.

Bakerman received a three-year sentence in 2002 for running an illegal factory making amphetamine and ketamine pills.

Haase claims that Bakerman received large sums of money from Haase before the pardon was granted, though even his lawyers admit there is no evidence of where this money ended up - if it was paid in the first place.

The arms caches were a set-up, planted on Haase's instructions from a mobile phone he had smuggled into prison.

Witnesses from within Haase's organisation now claim that bribes totalling £4.5 million were paid by criminals to officials involved with the case.

Haase and his associates have often been held responsible for bringing gun culture to the streets of Liverpool.

One former senior Customs officer said there had been suspicions well before the release of the two men that the arms caches were an elaborate scam.

Haase was rearrested in 1999 and sentenced to 13 years for money-laundering and supplying firearms to fellow gangsters. He is serving his sentence, but continues to wield a powerful influence from his prison cell, not least through his continuing claims that bribes were paid to help obtain his royal pardon.

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