Media Intrusion

Q: Did anyone discuss with you how to cope with media?

A: “No.”

Highly intrusive media practices are a recurring theme mentioned by victims throughout the ITA.[1] Jeremy Bamber was continually harassed by journalists who proceeded to call him at home, appeared in person at his house, and even trespassed onto his property trying to take photographs and make video recordings through the windows of his house both in Goldhanger and at White House Farm.[2] The press spent time questioning people he knew about his lifestyle and family.

Jeremy was upset by the media reports that Sheila had used drugs, and nowhere in any of his statements does he mention that Sheila had taken cocaine, rumors of Sheila’s drug use came from other sources.[3] In the early days the implication was that the Bamber family was ‘troubled’ and this grew into a much larger issue when Jeremy as a victim, became the accused and was later convicted of the shootings. Jeremy has consistently maintained that his relatives and police[4] informed media coverage, which deliberately maligns the parenting skills of his father Nevill, a Justice of the Peace, and June who had suffered mental health issues later in her life, only occurring when Jeremy was in his late teens.

Jeremy has been considerably upset by the accusations that the tragedies were in some way Nevill and June’s fault as parents. The reality is that Sheila was mentally ill. There was no dysfunctional behavior within the Bamber family by today’s standards and both Jeremy and Sheila had a loving childhood. Jeremy never viewed himself as adopted and had no desire to find his biological parents, unlike Sheila who had wanted to seek out her natural parents after her first signs of mental illness. Media attention resulted in Jeremy Bamber having no control over his own name or those of his family. Nevill Bamber will always be regarded as a man shot to death by one of his children, rather than the accomplished farmer, respected JP and heroic Mosquito pilot during World War II. Similarly June Bamber has been recorded as ‘looney Juney’ who had suffered considerable mental health issues and a stay in hospital. Jeremy feels that her overplayed religious obsession has precluded an intelligent theologian who was highly interested in the philosophical aspects of the Bible. Her work for the Church and her great amount of interest in organic farming, green Issues, and maintaining natural countryside has been forgotten and her even more commendable War time work in India with the The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, (FANY’s) has been almost completely wiped from history. Jeremy wants vindication for his family who did everything they could to help Sheila and give both their children the best start in life.

There is no question that the presentation of Sheila Caffell in the media was upsetting for all of the remaining relatives.[5] This was also harmful to the community of Toleshunt D’arcy more generally, and Jeremy and his family fell in to the category of ‘gossip’ and National Newspapers escalated rumors about connections between Sheila and drugs. Her relationship with alleged drug dealer Farhad Emami was regurgitated and used negatively, instead of positively, by showing how he had tried to support her financially and helped her during previous psychotic episodes.[6] Emami had left for Iran before the trial, but was contacted by police who noted in a memo that he would not return, and that if he testified it would be for the Defence and not the prosecution.[7] He was never called as a witness at the trial.

Media intrusion to its excess continues into Jeremy’s life. Jeremy received no impartial advice or support on how to deal with these queries.[8] He relied upon Julie Mugford and his friend Brett Collins while his relationship with the extended family had broken down after he was badgered for valuables from White House Farm. However, Mugford and Collins disliked each other, which added inevitable pressure to Jeremy who was already in disarray with so many pressures to carry at such a stressful time. To avoid constant media pressure the trio headed to Amsterdam where all three stayed in a single hotel room because funds were so tight. Jeremy was unhappy in his involvment with Julie and had planned to start a new relationship with another woman. When he had broken off his relationship with Julie the result was catastrophic for Jeremy at a time when he was highly vulnerable.

Five weeks after the tragedy when Julie Mugford had been charged with burglary and 'reported for process' over cheque book fraud, and she had alleged that Jeremy had hired a hit man to kill his family, the police arrested him. After 5 days of questioning he was released without charge, and he was very much still a Victim. Any sympathy Jeremy did receive was withdrawn from his relatives who continued to take property from the farmhouse. Support mechanisms that Jeremy did have in place were withdrawn under a cloud of suspicion. Media intrusion heightened. Jeremy, having no substantial finances headed to the South of France by ferry to avoid media intrusion, joined by Brett Collins where they stayed in a caravan. Jeremy’s needs as a victim had increased to such a point that he could no longer sustain running a business; avoid the constant badgering for valuables by his relatives; being hounded by the press and bearing the loss of his family; and his budding relationship with a new woman was in jeopardy, and collapsed soon after his arrest.

[1] ITA. Pg. 22

[2] Statement of journalist and police records, regarding photographs and VHS recordings, AA-209-29.

[3] Police documents recording Sheila’s cocaine abuse CE-02-01.

[4] It is now widely reported that the media outlets have made payments to police officers in exchange for information on high profile people.

[5] For example: A2-01-1) The Mirror Tuesday 17th September 1985.

[6] Farhad Emami, Statements, 8.8.85 & 24.09.85.

[7] Kinsley Napley notes conversations with Essex Police/journalists.

[8] ITA, Pg. 22. Victims feel ‘besieged’ by the media.