AS A YOUNG man from Horsham who has chaired the national youth wing of a major political party, I was disgusted by comments made about the killings in Norway by district councillor Philip Circus in the County Times of August 11.
As someone who has organised and led the types of conferences like the one on Utøya island, the reality of those 69 young men and women slain on that island really hit home.
That could have been my friends and my colleagues – over 50 of his victims were just teenagers.
If Mr Circus in any way feels it is appropriate to score political points out of their deaths then perhaps he should be considering whether his foray into local politics is really a suitable choice for him.
As for his points on the death penalty, they are flawed in the extreme – the chances of a debate on the death penalty are incredibly slim as the petition to bring it back has struggled to get even a tenth of the 100,000 signatures required, while the petition to keep the ban on the death penalty has almost twice as many signatures.
Had the death penalty still been in use, it is highly likely that innocent individuals convicted of crimes they did not commit, such as Stefan Kiszko, the ‘M25 Three’, the ‘Guildford Four’ and the ‘‘Maguire Seven’ would all have been killed by the state.
Add that to Mahmood Mattan, John Dickman and Derek Bentley, who were all hanged for crimes they did not commit before abolition in 1969.
As for hanged Timothy Evans whose innocence Mr Circus tries to suggest was some liberal conspiracy to undermine the death penalty – in 2003 an independent assessor for the Home Office found that his conviction was ‘wrongful’ and stated that ‘there is no evidence’ that Evans committed the murder. The court of appeal accepted this verdict in 2004.
Mr Circus is lauded by the County Times for being ‘provocative’, but when he tries to make cheap political points out of the tragic death of so many young people he has overstepped the mark.
I hope the County Times will drop him from their list of columnists and I urge Mr Circus to consider whether his political position is compatible with his comments.
Former chair of Liberal Youth (2010)