THURSDAY 20TH AUGUST 2009

12 02 2012

Hello

The date was 20th August 2009. We were sitting in the car outside Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, situated on the precarious and remote switchback road to Huisnish on the Isle of Harris,  (in my opinion Huisnish has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world). Wild salmon leap in the waters close to the grey castle walls and gannets nose-dive into the sea.  It was in 1849, that Lady Catherine, wife of Alexander, 6th Earl of Dunmore, then owner of the castle, set up an embroidery school and also encouraged the then fledgling, now world-famous, Harris Tweed industry.

Torrential rain hammered on to the bonnet of the car. The loud sound of water rushing to the sea, surrounded us – rushing rushing, but no sign of salmon leaping that day. The ‘wee’ postie (postman) drove past in his ‘wee’ van, having delivered letters to the castle, and we watched through the windscreen as he battled his way against the torrential rain up into the mountains.

Then, typical of the Outer Hebrides, like magic the rain stopped,  the sun burst through, the light changing the hills from dull grey to purple.

LATER THAT DAY – recorded in my journal

In 1999 when I photographed with difficulty (because of the pain in my face and weak eye resulting from Bells Palsy) the group of children that I described previously, I never for one minute thought I would become a published author. Opportunities have arisen that would have seemed unthinkable on that damp, midgy Sunday afternoon.

But something happened on 20th August 2009, that would destroy my faith in the media.

When we got back to Tarbert, the ‘capital’ of the Island of Harris, an American friend of long-standing, greeted me from across the other side of the road, and waving her just-delivered American newspaper in the air. “Hi Monica, great to see you, there’s an article about you on the centre pages here, about your book about Ruth Ellis the woman who was hanged in the UK, and about your nephew…..I had no idea you are related to Rob Pattinson, the Twilight star.

The newspaper to which my friend referred had linked me to my nephew Robert and the fantasy world of Twilight.

It was actually a few weeks before that the article had been published. I had glanced at it and thrown it in the bin, where it belonged. It was not until that day in August whilst on holiday on the remote Isle of Harris, 600 miles from home, that the story resurfaced.

We had strolled into the village that sunny afternoon. But I crawled with embarassment as my friend handed over the newspaper for me to read the two-page article consisting of make-believe trash. In essence, the newspaper debased our book, RUTH ELLIS MY SISTER’S SECRET LIFE, the real-life story of 28 year-old Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the UK, by linking it to the fantasy world of vampires and the fictional character Rob played in the Twilight film.

I felt disgusted as I read the low-life article. For public decency, the quotes I had allegedly given, are too vile to include here. I wasn’t used to seeing these revolting lies thought up to sell newspapers. What sort of person conjured it up?What sort of publisher allows such stories to be read by the general public? And what sort of readership needs these lies? I dreaded to think how many people had read the article and taken it at face value. And at what cost to me and my family?

…another Post to follow

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NEVER NEVER GIVE UP

12 02 2012

Hello again

……I’m going back to Sunday 6th July 2008 in my journal.

I was getting notes together for my Number 10 motivational speech for Toastmasters (public speaking club) and for which I would receive a ‘Competent Communicator’ certificate.

“I’m standing here remembering what I felt like 3 years ago when I first came to Toastmasters. I joined because there was a chance I would be interviewed by the media about the book I was co-authoring about the last woman to be hanged in the UK in 1955. The thought of interviews and speaking in public, thinking on my feet, scared me to death. I had to learn how to be prepared.

Our book, RUTH ELLIS MY SISTER’S SECRET LIFE,  was published on 7th July 2005, the day the London bombs went off. Our chance to reach a wide audience via the media was scuppered. Our sensational findings about: the bodged Old Bailey trial in 1955 in which Ruth Ellis’s defence counsel confused his duties with the prosecution’s; and Ruth Ellis’s liaison with spymaster Dr Stephen Ward, later of the Profumo scandal, were buried. Every bit of national publicity for our book was pulled.

But, knowing that when one door closes, another ALWAYS opens, I took to journal writing in earnest – jotting down every thought, every idea.

It was the start of my campaign to clear Ruth Ellis’s name. I knew that to win in the Court of Appeal (if we were to get another chance) with my new findings, I first had to win in the Court of Public Opinion.

I could give talks, so I auditioned to be included on the Women’s Institute list of approved speakers.

Every day I thought which route would bring extra publicity for the campaign to clear Ruth Ellis’s name.

I contacted local newspapers in English counties from Surrey, Kent, and London and to as far away as Northumberland and Cornwall – anywhere that had connections to the story. I wrote to Detective magazines asking them to publicise my findings. They did.

I wrote a blog on the internet – a triumph for someone who’s non-techy!

Every little step became a stride.

I stuffed flyers into books that I sold at talks that I gave to reach an audience as wide as possible. And I speak to any group that will have me, from women’s groups to retired gentlemens’ clubs, from audiences of 10 to audiences of 500.

Step-by-step I discovered ways of raising the profile of my findings. I was determined to push forward as far as possible.

In July 2008, as the 53rd anniversary of Ruth Ellis’s execution approached, my e-petition was accepted on to the Downing Street website. I asked the Prime Minister to look again at the Ruth Ellis case in the light of our new findings which the jury at Ruth Ellis’s trial in 1955, never got to hear – evidence showing that Ruth Ellis was innocent of the crime for which she was hanged. The national newspapers showed an interest. It came to nothing.

I stayed positive.

All these steps, I knew, had been for a reason. it disciplined me to deliver a simple, clear message – to refine my own thinking for a time when the media WILL be interested – giving me time to explore new connections, new evidence. Eventually there will be a breakthrough.

Out of the blue I received a letter from a public relations company. they wanted to help me with my campaign. By raising my profile, they said, it would raise Ruth Ellis’s. Another journalist came to interview me. At 7 o’clock the following Sunday morning, having got up early because I couldn’t sleep, I did some ironing then dashed out to buy the newspaper. The story had been ditched…again.

I will continue my fight to clear Ruth Ellis’s name”.

My message to everyone that night in July 2008 when I gave my 10th speech at Toastmasters: NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP.