“To no-one shall we sell, deny or delay right or justice.”
King John, Magna Carta, 1215, clause 40
(Note: 2015 is the 800th year anniversary of Magna Carta in 1215)
“You have not lived today until you have done
something for someone who can never repay you.”
In the long term this website, which is in early re-construction and is to be updated weekly, will be dedicated to the memory of Peter Roebuck. It will invite and include pieces from all those who knew him or shared his life and believed in him at any time or in any place and will be shared by and belong to his family, friends, colleagues, followers, admirers and all.
In the short term, it will also serve as the only authoritative source of knowledge of and about Peter and will provide information that is truthful about what is happening with, for instance, the two inquests to be held into how and why he died in South Africa and England and will provide answers on the website to pertinent questions sent in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peter Roebuck lived his whole life fighting not so much for justice, as against injustice of all kinds. And now he faces the greatest injustice of all, as whilst the fourth year anniversary of his death on 12th November 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa, grows ever nearer, his family, friends, colleagues and admirers still await an inquest in public as to how he may have died.
‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ and so all who believe in Peter, or in justice, or just in ‘fair play’ as it is known in his beloved game of cricket, are asked to join together to demand with one voice: ‘Justice for Peter’. You will have lived today if you do something for him in this cause for he can never now repay you. As in the law’s oldest petition: ‘Let Right Be Done’.
No-one knows how or even why Peter died, but there have been three main volunteers on the subject, all of whom purport to give their own definitive answers. Sadly, none have the status or the right credentials to be relied on as an authority, as each has something of a ‘conflict of interest’, which at very least raises the potential for their ‘verdict’ (sic) to be self-serving.
“Nothing is so swift as calumny, nothing is more easily propagated,
nothing more readily credited, nothing more widely circulated.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero (107 to 43 BC)
(1). The police force in whose custody Peter lost his life
Firstly, there was the police team in whose custody Peter so suddenly and mysteriously died. Within hours of his death at a time when only 2 members of that police team were with him, they were giving briefings to the press that the cause of death was “suicide”. The world’s media took up that pronouncement without ever seeming to question its reliability or veracity.
Under the laws of South Africa and in many cricket playing nations of the world, whenever a person dies a violent death in state detention, as when in police custody, as Peter did, there must be a judicial enquiry into the death at which evidence is called, tested and an inquest verdict returned if the cause of death has been proven to the requisite legal standards.
Within hours of Peter’s death, his family had instructed Africa’s largest law firm, Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, and Senior Advocate, Francois van Zyl, S.C., one of South Africa’s most respected barristers, to represent them at the Inquest that everyone, including the police force concerned, were then agreeing would have to follow by operation of law.
The family also instructed the highly respected English barrister, David Hood, to conduct the Inquest in the United Kingdom that would be triggered when Peter’s body was repatriated to the country of his birth and which would follow the one in South Africa. He travelled out to Cape Town, exactly 3 weeks after Peter died and liaised with the full legal team there.
If Colonel Naidoo, the senior officer in charge of the police force’s investigation was quoted correctly in the article at http://www.smh.com.au/national/barrister-to-inquire-into-roebucks-death-20111205-1ofhf.html, it would seem that they were fully aware that the family lawyers were on record and that the family wished to take an active part in the Inquest in Cape Town.
If so, the circumstances in which the police might properly have persuaded a Magistrate to hold an inquest behind closed doors with no witnesses called and no family members or even their lawyers present, in February 2013, is not clear. The few papers disclosed to date show that notice of the inquest was sent to a nonexistent British diplomat at a nonexistent address.
Great respect for the laws of the Republic of South Africa, its law officers and also its police service would make further comment inappropriate at this stage. However, as at the date of the re-launch of this website in September 2015, the family are confident that their quest for ‘Justice for Peter’ is almost at an end and that an open Inquest will be announced quite soon.
(2). Mr Shand
A self-employed journalist named Mr Shand, wrote a piece about Peter in early 2012, which purported to give an ‘insight’ into his private life and to present him as a false philanthropist. As Shand confessed that he had hated Peter since he was at Cranbrook School, where Peter taught, his credentials for writing a ‘definitive’ piece are not clear.
Peter taught at Cranbook School for many years during the off season when it was winter in England and, as this website will attest, was clearly an inspirational, greatly loved and still much admired master. The odd man out seems to be the odd man Shand, who bore him a grudge of such ferocity that for revenge he stole Peter’s cricket pads in his last term there.
All cricketers will understand the nature of such a theft. A new pair of pads will take weeks to ‘break in’ and to become acclimatised to, as they must become like a second skin. And so, if his confession to an act of dishonesty does not raise questions about his judgement, it does not really lend itself to establish him firmly as a reliable witness.
At the end of Shand’s piece, he touchingly admitted his 25 year hatred for Peter: “I admired him, even as I despised him” and claimed Peter forgave him for his dishonesty and thievery during a chance meeting whilst running on Bondi Beach “in early 2006”. Surprisingly, no-one witnessed this meeting and Peter never wrote about it, which is not like him at all.
There is an ongoing investigation into Shand’s ‘article’ and to date no-one he quoted in it has agreed that they said what he says they said. Once completed, Shand may be asked to provide copies of the evidence (if any) on which he relies for his quotes from those ‘quoted’ (sic) and then, if appropriate, the matter taken up and pursued to its rightful conclusion.
Following the re-launch of this website, Mr Shand emailed email@example.com to say how upset he was by it, calling it a “yellow site” and of being “cowardly” and “weak gutted”. He also kindly offered to provide copies of audio tape recordings he says he made of “various people” he says he quoted in his article and signed off: “Kind regards, Adam Shand"
If there is any evidence in Mr Shand’s possession on which he might rely to justify the surprising claims he makes in his articles and for which he was no doubt paid a large and well-deserved fee, then he is invited to send it to the solicitors acting for Peter Roebuck’s estate, the respected English law firm, Ralli Solicitors, whose contact details are at www.ralli.co.uk.
Mr Shand does not appear to be an accredited journalist, and, by his own very frank admission, is incapable of being objective, in the conventional sense, in his reports about Peter, as he “despised him”. Accordingly, Mr Shand will need to produce rather more than what he describes as “a copy of the audio recordings” he says he has.
To all investigators of facts with proven track records, this will be elementary. Mr Shand will need to have proof to recognised standards that the tapes (if any) are recordings of the people he says they are of and that they are true copies of the originals, as such recordings are inherently vulnerable, and, as Mr Shand helpfully admits, he has no independent witnesses.
As of September 2016, Peter Roebuck’s UK solicitors have not heard a word from Mr Shand, notwithstanding his very kind offer in September 2015 to provide his tape recordings of all of the interviewees, on which he wrote his ‘article’ published on 1st January 2012, in the Sydney Morning Herald. As he was asked to provide any credible evidence he had, it would seem he had none.
(3). Lane & Cartledge: The Shadow Chasers
It is a fact which may be universally acknowledged that to write a book about another man's life is a serious matter. The male of the species suffers angst about the meaning of his life. Some rail against their mortality by seeking immortality, perhaps in great achievement in the field of sporting endeavour, politics, writing, the media worlds or even in charitable deeds.
To write a book about another man's life and his death is a more serious matter. And to write a book about another man's life and controversial death must surely set the bar at its very highest. However, to do so when there is not just one, but two inquests pending into his death, at which all the evidence is to be evaluated, goes above the bar, way over and beyond.
What of the credentials of Messrs. T Lane and E Cartledge in their ambitious adventure, for which they have volunteered without request, encouragement or even permission. Mr. Lane is a popular, self-effacing sports pundit, but he has most candidly admitted in an ever increasing flurry of radio interviews with some old pals, that, as a book writer, he is a sexagenarian first timer.
Then we have the lugubrious Cartledge, a middle aged author of indeterminate status, who has apparently written two books about Australian Rules football. That may well be one of the world's toughest and most remarkable sports, but is a little removed from cricket and they were chronicles. And so, like Lane, as a biographer, he is a quintagenarian first timer.
The kindest thing to do may be to say very little about this unfortunate tome and let it sink into the abyss, where some may think it belongs. However, modest comment must be made if there is to be even a hint of a level playing field, a nicety not present in all radio interviews to date and in the one conducted by Peter's friend (sic), Kerry O'Keeffe, pre-eminently absent.
Comment must also be made of the very unfortunate methodology of our two sorry scribes. Notably, many of those closest to Peter refused to speak to them, but they omit to mention that. Much of the book merely regurgitates snippets from the writings of others, but which are presented as if original research. Family, friends and colleagues feel misused and misquoted.
"'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first - verdict afterwards ... Off with her head!'"
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (1865)
Rifle shot 1
We begin with a rifle shot of the old school variety, so often eschewed by our two aspiring archivists: namely hard fact (aka evidence), followed by fair comment. The 1st chapter is entitled "In His Own World", and concludes: "In the end, he saw betrayers and detractors around every corner. In the last email to his family, he expressed a longing to come home."
As will be seen, this may sound like fact – it is certainly asserted as such – but in reality it is just unfair comment, as no fact (aka evidence) is cited in support of it, and the relevant facts are unfortunately overlooked. And so, our two princes of prose have already passed through the looking glass into a world in which unfair comment precedes absent facts. Oh, dear.
Peter's email to his Mother on 8th November 2011, replying to her chatty email updating him on family affairs, actually reads: "Greetings from a wet Cape Town ! Blimey the family are becoming adventurous. Did not realise M and S going to Malaysia. good for them its an improving place I hear Paul seems Ok when he is in touch the Ecuador sagas continue !
am in Africa for another fortnight or so then back to Sydney now have 42 africans under my wing ! all going well as far as i can tell. Hope France was fun, just think it was great to go, a change freshens the spirit Xmas comes soon sko am sure ju are settling on for that hope someone is around for it back in england in 2013 cheers P".
Shrewd readers of the written word may interpret "back in England in 2013 cheers P", as simply Peter's cheery reminder to his family that he would be in England for the 2013 Ashes series. It is not clear how a reference to the fact that his work as a cricket commentator will next bring him to England in two years' time, can be an expression of "a longing to come home."
However, our two aspiring authors make that assertion in the wake of a claim that a man they admit they never really knew (Lane) or never even met (Cartledge) had "In the end" seen "betrayers and detractors around every corner". It may come as no surprise by now that no evidence is presented to support this bold contention, by our two super sleuths. Why not?
Even readers too modest to think they are shrewd may note that the email is dated the day after he is later accused of a foul sexual assault. Is the email's tone or content consistent with that, if it was ever true? What about: "all going well as far as I can tell"? The email is upbeat and jaunty, which is how all who saw Peter in the last week of his life have described him.
No shrewdness at all is required to note that a book, which initially described itself as: "part biography, part personal reflection, part investigation", should omit to quote any text at all from the email. How is the book to be regarded as an objective piece, or the authors relied on, if they omit the entire text before describing it terms which may not be universally agreed?
The book is consistently coy about providing hard facts, or any facts at all, on which the writers claim to base their comments, albeit comments presented as facts. A few lines above: "Many who knew Roebuck, particularly the man of later years, speak of his belief that he was obsessively pursued". Not a single name is condescended to and one must ask why?
Earlier in Chapter 1, they claim: "Roebuck was known to say that he regarded enjoyment in life as irrelevant. Only the struggle interested him." Ho-hum: "was known to" is possibly a little shy about naming anyone. Then: "One who specialises in human behaviour, describes it as a 'damaged' way of viewing life." Who is "One who specialises in human behaviour"?
Such a dark claim about a dead man, must require attribution of some kind, if these cuckoo cowriters are to be acquitted of the deployment of prose in its idlest form. May the readers not be given some access to the authors' secret world? Perhaps, "One" is the giant pink bunny rabbit, whom they talk to when they are all alone? How is the reader to know?
Rifle shot 2
To be continued...