In the name of the son: The Guildford Four scandal revisited
A new book by the long-life friend of Guildford Four’s Gerry Conlon is due to be launched this Friday evening in Camden’s London Irish Centre.
Following his release from prison, Conlon received close to £1 million from government compensation, movie and book deals and ran in the same circles as Johnny Depp, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Shane MacGowan.
He seemed to have it all, yet within five years he was hooked on crack cocaine and eating out of bins in the backstreets of London.
Beyond the elation of his release was the awful descent into addiction, isolation and self-loathing. Conlon was showered with money from the British government, and from book deals and film rights, and was unable to resist the riotous lifestyle that came with fame and notoriety.
But Conlon was in no fit state to lead this life as he crucified himself for the fact that his father, Giuseppe, had died in prison. His descent into crack cocaine addiction was rapid and devastating and it took Conlon eight years to break the habit but in 2007, he finally succeeded after he found out that he had an eighteen-year-old daughter.
His friend Richard O’Rawe has written a candid account of Conlon’s life following his years of brutal incarceration at the hands of the British justice system.
Conlon and Richard grew up together in Belfast’s Lower Falls area, and were life-long best friends and confidantes. O’Rawe is a former Irish republican prisoner and was a leading figure in the 1981 Hunger Strike in the H Blocks of the Maze prison.
He has also written the bestselling Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-Block Hunger Strike and Afterlives: The Hunger Strike and the Secret Offer that Changed Irish History.
In The Name of The Son reveals for the first time, an in-depth view of the trauma that Gerry Conlon suffered, and how he often contemplated suicide.
The launch on Friday October 20th will feature guest speaker Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six, and the book itself contains a powerful foreword from Hollywood legend Johnny Depp.
He says: “This book is a tour de force, a chronicle of the triumph of the human spirit over extreme adversity. It is a story of hope. It is the story of a man I loved and would have taken a bullet for.”
The book deals with many of the complex turns that led to Conlon’s arrest and incarceration. It hones in on how the crown prosecution service perverted the course of justice by hiding forensic evidence of the Guildford 4 trial and by later telling senior forensic scientists to alter their witness statements in order to facilitate the convictions.
This matter is the subject of a case that is being taken by KRW solicitors, and the revelation came about when the author was flown over to Kew (National Archives) by the BBC last year following a token release of some of the 700 files that have been embargoed since the end of the Sir John May enquiry into the Guildford 4 and Maguire 7 cases in 1993. Hundreds of files are still embargoed.
It also deals with the media exposure Conlon experienced, the developments of what would become the film In The Name of the Father and his subsequent high-octane attendance at the Oscars following the film’s release.
In The Name of the Son also focuses on Conlon’s profound role in enlisting key US politicians support in the campaign for the release of the Birmingham Six and how Tony Blair’s apology in his private offices in the House of Commons led to the healing of the long-standing rift between the Conlon and Maguire families rapprochement with the Maguire family.
• The book is published by Merrion Press, and the launch at the London Irish Centre is open to the public from 7:30pm
Pick up your copy of the book here: