Uploaded Summer 2015

There has been much discussion over the telephones at White House Farm. This was brought up at the 1986 Trial of Jeremy Bamber. Key witnesses made statements and gave testimony about the phones that were at the farm.

Firstly, there were usually four phones at White House Farm; a cream dial phone in the master bedroom; a blue digital dial one in the upstairs office; and a cordless phone, which was kept in the kitchen. There was also another phone at the Farm that was a ‘fawn’ colour which had a digital key pad. When asked by Mr Arlidge at Jeremy’s Trial, Barbara Wilson stated that this telephone was usually kept in the kitchen alongside the cordless telephone.[1]

“Was there any other telephone that was normally in the kitchen? A. Yes, there used to be a press-button one beside the cordless phone. There were two there.”

In late July 1985, there had been a thunderstorm, which had caused damage to the phone system, and an engineer called Mr Pike made a statement that on the 5th of August 1985 he took away the cordless phone, which was normally kept in the kitchen and he did not leave a replacement.[2] This meant that three telephones remained in White House Farm. The blue one in the office, the push button telephone in the kitchen, (which we assume to be the ‘fawn’ coloured phone), and the cream dial telephone normally kept in the main bedroom.

The farm secretary Mrs Wilson had been on holiday and was not entirely sure where the phones were moved to as a result of this storm. Nevertheless, Mrs Jean Bouttell, the cleaning lady testified in court that the phones had gone wrong so many times in the past year that she described it as “musical phones,”[3] simply because the phones were moved around so frequently by the Bamber Family. She said it was common practice for the cream phone from the bedroom to be moved down into the kitchen.[4]

It is probable that the cream dial telephone was moved from the main bedroom by June or Nevill Bamber because they preferred it to the push button telephone. Jean Bouttell testified that Nevill liked to use the cordless phone and would take it round the house with him which was especially useful as there was no telephone in his den (also referred to as downstairs office) as this had gone for repair.

When the police finished their SOCO investigations and handed the keys to the family, by the weekend of the 10th of August 1985, Ann Eaton and Jean Bouttell started cleaning the house. Additionally, numbers of people had been in and around the house including Basil Cock, Barbara Wilson, Robert Boutflour, Pamela Boutflour, Chris Nevill, David Boutflour, Karen Boutflour and Anthony Pargeter.

On the 23rd of August 1985, Jeremy had been back to the farm and Barbara Wilson had commenced her duties as farm secretary reporting to Jeremy. Jean Bouttell had also commenced her regular cleaning duties. Jeremy had increased the wages of the farm workers during this time. He asked Barbara Wilson to clear out many of the papers in the office for him, and asked Jean Bouttell to clear out other belongings in the house. As we all know, after a family member has died we have to face the difficult task of removing their belongings from our lives and Jeremy was no different from any other person in facing the emotional and practical difficulties of doing this.

Jean Bouttell testified that Jeremy had asked her to remove the pile of magazines in the kitchen and it was during this clear out that she found the fawn coloured phone. She said that she asked Jeremy what she should do with it and he replied, “that’s a spare”.[5] When she checked the phone some three weeks later at the request of the police she found that it was working. Barbara Wilson also states that she checked the phone and found it to be working. Neither of these witnesses stated that Jeremy had told them that the phone was broken. In 2011, Bob Woffinden, campaign journalist and formerly a supporter of Jeremy Bamber, wrote an article published in the Mail, about how the telephone issue apparently proved Jeremy was guilty of committing the murders. Woffinden did not request to view police documentation regarding the phone issue, preferring instead to use evidence without quoting the source. Woffinden inaccurately claims that Jeremy thought he could “argue it [the fawn phone] was not working.” There is a considerable difference between the comments that a phone was a ‘spare’ or being ‘broken’ but Woffinden chose to ignore the evidence pertaining to the truth, as it doesn’t suit his peculiar agenda. It is odd that Woffinden made such a public display of his opinion that Jeremy was innocent, then claiming he was guilty in 2011, but in the publication of a later article in 2014, he stated very clearly that Jeremy’s case is an ‘unresolved miscarriage of justice’. Curiously again in 2015 Woffinden appears in a programme on Sky claiming Jeremy is guilty. In my view this brings the integrity and judgement of his work as a journalist into serious question.

It has been suggested that Jeremy deliberately removed the phone from the bedroom that his father slept in so that he could not call the police when Jeremy allegedly broke into the house to kill the family. Firstly, Jeremy could not be responsible for the storm, which had again damaged the telephone equipment. Secondly, is Jeremy expected to remember where each phone was at each moment when he didn’t even live in the house? Is it reasonable to expect Jeremy to know which phones were supposed to be where at this time? Is it not a reasonable assumption that, if the Bamber family's phone were broken, one of the household members would take a phone from the upstairs bedroom and use it to replace the broken one? Particularly if, amongst the piles of untidy clutter littered throughout the house they didn’t know where the spare phone was.

Considering the number of moves that the telephones had made during the last year, which seems to have been at least two or three times up until the 7th of August 1985[6], is it not reasonable that Jeremy did not spend his days thinking about where the phone was? Is it not reasonable to wonder at how many people had been in the house ‘looking for evidence’ long after the initial police SOCO search between the 9th of August 1985 and the 23rd of August 1985? Is it not reasonable to assume that the ‘spare’ phone could have been moved at any time by anyone to its position under the magazines during Ann Eaton’s clean-up of the farm house?

DCI Ainsley wrote a report known as his Interim Report, to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) dated 23rd September 1985.[7] In the report, DCI Ainsley described where the telephones were within the house on the morning of the 7th August 1985.[8]

“In the kitchen, situated on top of a work surface beneath the hatchway leading to the bottle room, was a normal dial telephone, colour white. This was in working order. The handset was found removed from the cradle. In the company office on the first floor was a blue coloured telephone with a digital display and memory. There is no evidence to suggest this telephone was used on the night in question but it was used by an officer of the Essex Police Tactical Firearms Group after the farmhouse was entered.[9]This telephone will retrieve on the display only the last number dialled which is automatically erased by the next use. Found in the office was a third telephone on a shelf. It is believed that this telephone was from the main bedroom, having been unplugged and the cord wrapped around the set. This cannot be explained but the set and bedroom plug have been checked by telecommunications employees and both are in working order.[10]

The Interim Report made by DCI Ainsley reveals that all the telephones, which should have been in the house, three in total, were present and were accounted for. However, DCI Ainsley misled the DPP by his failure to describe the telephone seen on the shelf in the office. He further misled the DPP by stating that the telephone found on the shelf was the “telephone from the main bedroom”. This was a lie as DCI Ainsley had witness evidence that the telephone normally in the main bedroom was the cream one with the dial, which had been moved to the kitchen.

At some time between the 7th August 1985 and the 24th August 1985[11] the telephone which DCI Ainsley reported as being found on the shelf in the office was moved and was placed with the cord still wrapped around it within a pile of magazines in the kitchen of White House farm[12]. Jean Bouttell testified in court saying:

“and in the middle of the pile was the fawn coloured digital telephone with its cord wound around it, this was the telephone which was normally in the kitchen on the right hand end of the working surface. I then saw that the cream round finger dial telephone which was normally in the main bedroom was sitting on the right hand end of the working surface with the cord running through the hatch in the wall behind and into the drinks cupboard.”

It is not known who moved this telephone in order to deceive the Police into thinking that Jeremy had hidden it, but the only people who had access to the house and had motive to implicate Jeremy were the relatives.

DC Bird was the Officer who photographed the scene on the morning of the 7th August 1985. He states in evidence that he took photographs of every room inside White House Farm. This is confirmed in paragraph 179 of the typed Dickinson Report.[13] No photographs of the office have ever been disclosed to the Defence. Photographs of this room would have shown that the telephone later found amongst magazines in the kitchen was on the shelf in the office on the morning of the 7th August 1985 as DCI Ainsley originally stated, and was not therefore hidden by Jeremy as was later claimed. Essex Police deliberately deceived the Court at Jeremy’s trial as they went along with the façade that the phone found underneath the magazines was hidden there by Jeremy when they had the evidence which reveals that on the 7th August 1985 this same telephone was on a shelf in the office.

DI Harris used the Cream Dial Phone on the 7th of August 1985.

After the tragedies happened on the 7th of August 1985, Chief Supt Harris used the cream dial phone to call Assistant Chief Constable Simpson on that morning before SOCO carried out their search of the house but this was denied at the 2002 Appeal. The cream dial phone was never submitted for forensic testing and potentially could have held fingerprint and bloodstain evidence. Essex Police maintained that although Harris did make a telephone call from White House Farm, he used the blue telephone in the upstairs office. In his Final Report to the DPP, DCI Ainsley said[14]:

“The 'Sceptre 100' telephone was, as stated, still connected in the office and was in working order on the morning of 7th August 1985, being used by the Essex Police Tactical Firearms Group who were unable to use the kitchen telephone for obvious reasons.”

This was a lie. In 2002 evidence regarding the use of the telephone and which telephone was used was taken from only ten of the Officers who had entered the house on the morning of the 7th August 1985, when considerably more TFU Officers had access to the kitchen of the house and could have testified about Chief Supt Harris’s use of this telephone. Evidence released in 2004 now proves Harris did make this call using the cream telephone in the kitchen. Chief Superintendent Harris did not at any time venture into the upstairs office on the morning of the 7th August 1985. In his witness statement dated 03.10.86 he states the rooms he entered:[15] “I entered the following parts of the house. Kitchen, main hallway, lounge, main stairs, main bedroom, second bedroom [Sheila’s room], twin boys bedroom.” Therefore the only telephone he could have used was the cream dial telephone which was in the kitchen of White House Farm[16].

Author: Y. Hartley

Developmental Edits: S. Hanover

[1] AK-10) Barbara Wilson transcript. PDF, Pg. 3 at A

[2] AF-05-04) Bouttell (J) 30.09.85 PDF, pg. 2: “For the past year Mr BAMBER had a cordless telephone but I understand that this was returned to Mr PIKE of a shop known as D.B.RANGE at Tiptree on Monday, 5 August 1985 for repair.”

[3] AK-09) Jean Bouttell - (Transcript). PDF, Pg. 7 at F.

[4] AK-09) Jean Bouttell - (Transcript). PDF, Pg. 7 at E: “ And I think you know that the cream telephone, which you see there In front of you — the middle of the three with the old-fashioned dial — that was moved around too, was it not? A. That was brought into the kitchen if the office one went wrong”. And AK-09) Jean Bouttell - (Transcript). PDF, Pg. 7 at E and F: “JUSTICE DRAKE (To the witness): Can you help us about that last thing. The white one, which was the bedroom one, you said that was sometimes brought into the kitchen if the office one went wrong? A. The kitchen one would go into the office and the bedroom one would go down into the kitchen.”

[5] AF-05-04) Bouttell (J) 30.09.85 PDF, pg. 3 “Later still that morning about 12.30 pm I met Jeremy in the hall and told him that I had found a telephone amongst the magazines and that j I had taken it to the office. He replied, "Leave it in the office. That's a spare one and it belongs to us,"(Meaning not a phone belonging to BT).

[6] AK-09) Jean Bouttell –(Transcript)

[7] AB-05-17) DCI Ainsley Interim Report. PDF, Para.19: “At the time of the murders there were three telephones within White House Farm.”

[8] AB-05-17) DCI Ainsley Interim Report. PDF, Para. 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

[9] Ground ‘12’ at the 2002 appeal. See also CPS Letter to GLAISYERS Solicitor dated 18/07/02 Ref: L83/2055/98 – “all T.F.G. spoken to, none used phone” CJ-01-08) T.F.G. used the office phone. PDF

2002 AINSLEY interview (Page 25 + 26) oddly the CPS didn’t interview all T.F.G. officers who entered the house. CSI HARRIS, PC 795 BISHOP, PC 1722 BROWN, PS 28 GOLDING, PC 721 EAST, PC 1617 MACKINTOSH, PC 1422 MERCER, PS 1596 MOULE, PC 1670 SAVAGE, PC 721 SPELMAN, PC 1265 WEATHERLEY Eleven (11) T.F.U. officers who all entered the house, although in 2002 they were not asked by the CPS if they had used the house phone, or interviewed, which suggests that even the CPS were misled by Essex Police regarding who entered the house on Wednesday 7 th August 1985.

[10] HOLMES 7/18) Hand Written DICKINSON Report. PDF: “ (Third telephone) “Found by housekeeper under some papers as if Jeremy had hidden the telephone”. The Phone was hidden after 23/09/85 i.e. after AINSLEY wrote his report.

[11] AK-09) Jean Bouttell –(Transcript). PDF, Pg. 4 at B and C: “MR. ARLIDGE: Now, what was the next time after that that you went in? Do you remember? A. The next day — on the Monday. Q. Did you at some time find a telephone somewhere? A. Yes. Q. Do you remember when it was that you found it? A. On 23rd August, I think.

Q. How did it come about that you found it? A. Jeremy came and asked me to get rid of the magazines in the house, and there was a pile of magazines in the kitchen by the stove, and I was pulling them to pieces to burn them, and that is when I came across the telephone.

[12] AF-05-04) Bouttell (J) 30.09.85. PDF, Pg. 9: “I went to remove the magazines and in the middle of the pile was the fawn coloured digital telephone with its cord wound around it, this was the telephone which was normally in the kitchen on the right hand end of the working surface.”

[13] CE-19-34) Typed Dickinson Report. PDF.

[14] AX-04-10) DCI AINSLEY Final report – PDF, Parag. 283.

[15] AA-08-04A) CSI HARRIS Statement 03/10/86. PDF

[16] AA-08-04A) CSI HARRIS Statement 03/10/86.PDF. Also BONNET’s Log 08:20 entry AP-14-01)