Fears that man with Asperger's cleared of TV presenter's murder is being manipulated|
LONDON, UK: Barry George, the man with Asperger's syndrome wrongly convicted of the murder of the British television presenter, Jill Dando, has reportedly sold the movie rights to his story for a six-figure sum, but his Limerick uncle fears that the Londoner is being manipulated.
George was released two weeks ago after spending eight years in jail for the murder of BBC presenter, Jill Dando, who was shot dead outside her home in Fulham in 1999.
His original conviction was quashed last year when the Criminal Cases Review Commission found that a trace of gunshot residue, which had been described as "compelling evidence of guilt" in the 2001 trial, was neutral and could have come from
The British tabloid, The People, reported this week that Devon Films, a production company based in Torquay, planned to start filming the big screen adaptation of George's story in October with a budget of £800,000.
Surjit Singh Clair, of the Miscarriages Of Justice Organisation (MOJO), who has been acting as a spokesman for George since his release, said this week that he could not confirm George's cut from the movie deal, but that it would "easily run
into six figures."
However, Michael Bourke, Ballyneety, an uncle of Barry George, has expressed concern over his nephew's involvement with MOJO and the media exposure which has surrounded his release.
Bourke accused figures within MOJO of "jumping on the bandwagon" just as his nephew was released, and subsequently influencing him to take part in press interviews for the benefit of the organisation.
The working title for the film adaptation of the 48-year-old Londoner's life is "MOJO: The Barry George Story."
"They used Barry George's trial to get some good press, because it was such a high-profile case. A lot of people have worked tirelessly for the last eight years for Barry's release and they claim they've always supported him, but many of them are only in it for the attention.
"Barry is easily led and he has been taken in by them, as has his sister, Michelle," said Mr Bourke.George suffers from epilepsy as well as Asperger's syndrome.
Bourke said that he had first encountered MOJO in 2001, when he claimed the organisation asked him for photos of his nephew in order to "improve his image after the original conviction. I made the mistake of giving the pictures to them and they appeared in the News of the World under the headline: 'The imp who turned into a devil.' It was sickening to see the pictures I had given them appearing like that."
Within hours of his release, George, along with his sister Michelle, agreed to give a world exclusive interview to The News of The World and Sky News.
The tabloid went on to refer to George as a "bug-eyed oddball" in the subsequent interview.
Responding to Bourke's criticisms, a representative from MOJO said the Limerick man was misinformed on many issues, and that George's defence team had contracted a specialist lawyer to negotiate all media on his behalf.
However, Clair has continued to act as a spokesman for Mr George since his retrial ended.
"This charity attended Mr George's original trial, both directions hearing and his first appeal. This charity made the application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission on Mr George's behalf, sent in 14 different representations over a three-year period. We attended directions hearings and the whole of his second appeal. We attended the opening of the recent second trial, and were present throughout the whole of the defence case," said Hazel Keirle, MOJO policies officer.
She added that MOJO did not receive any part of George's payment for carrying out the Sky News and News of the World interview, but that the paper was specifically requested by George to make an additional £500 donation to the charity.
Bourke responded, saying MOJO representatives had merely been spectators at George's appeals.
He said that, at the 2002 appeal, MOJO had involved George in an "ill-advised stunt" in which his sister had attacked British justice from the steps of the court before the appeal was even heard.
Bourke added, however, that he had been contacted by representatives from MOJO early this week and, although he still had reservations about the organisation, he was willing to look past them for now for the benefit of his nephew.
"Barry and his family are back in London and they seem to have had a good week and are settling back to something like normality. I want the best for my nephew now that he's free, and this kind of quarrelling won't achieve anything," he said.
(Source: Limerick Leader, August 16, 2008)