Approaching the evidence chronologically, Bamber first takes issue with police reports of his telephone call to Cheltenham station.
After speaking to Bamber, PC West contacted his colleagues at Witham police station, which is halfway between Chelmsford and Tolleshunt. The officer who took this call wrote up a memo headed “daughter gone bezerk”, in which he paraphrases what Nevill is supposed to have told Jeremy about Sheila having “got hold of one of my guns”, and adds “Information passed to CD [control at Chelmsford] by Mr Bamber’s son”, confirming that Chelmsford’s source was Jeremy Bamber.
West times Bamber’s own call from Goldhanger to Chelmsford at 03.36, whereas the other memo times West’s call to Witham at 03.26, so at least once timing is inaccurate. But Bamber concludes that the timing is bang on: his suggestion is that the other officer didn’t get his information from Chelmsford, but from no less a person than Nevill Bamber. The officer, Jeremy maintains, must have taken an emergency call from the 61-year-old farmer and noted Nevill’s words as he’d spoken them.
Aware that a problem existed reconciling the order in which calls between the parties were placed and the time at which they were said to have happened, the Crown liaised with the officer in question. He confirmed that he’d received a call from Chelmsford at 03.26, passing on the information received from Jeremy Bamber moments beforehand. Later he filled out an official Document Record to this effect.
At no time had he heard from Nevill Bamber or anyone else in connection with the incident at White House Farm. Presumably then, West had misread the clock when he filled out his call log, or just mistakenly wrote 03.36 instead of 03.26.
At 03.35, Witham despatched patrol car CA7 to attend the scene, and Chelmsford directed CA5 to attend at 03.36. Overlooking the fact that the police were co-ordinating their response across relevant parts of the county, Bamber’s supporters also ask why the Essex constabulary should send a car from each station unless the police were responding separately to different reports?
There is something darkly comic about the image of Nevill Bamber, under a hale of bullets, leafing through the phone book to get hold of the number for Witham station instead of dialling 999.
Plainly, there is little for Bamber’s defence team to get their teeth into here, but that hasn’t stopped them promoting the risible scenario of a call from Nevill to Witham police station. Earlier this summer the mainstream press picked up on the story: the Mail and Mirror were among papers reporting it on 5 August as a dramatic new find that had the potential to clear the supposed killer.
These papers uncritically reported that all along, documented proof seems to have existed that police had heard about Sheila’s rampage not only via Jeremy but directly from Nevill. If this information was correct, Jeremy’s account was vindicated and he could not possibly be guilty of the murders.
It’s worth considering the implications of the defence’s claim. If it were true, several members of the Essex constabulary would have been aware of the existence of a call from Nevill on the morning of the murders. When officers began to suspect the son of involvement and started poking around for discrepancies in Jeremy’s story, they would quickly have turned up accounts of Nevill’s call, snuffing out any doubts they had about Sheila’s culpability.
In these circumstances, police would only have continued to pursue Bamber for the murders if they were intentionally attempting to frame him.
In fact, Bamber maintains that this is exactly what happened, although he casts the net much wider to take in his relatives as well as the Essex constabulary.
Bamber’s legal team must be aware that claims about Nevill telephoning police withstand no scrutiny. Perhaps their strategy is to keep throwing anything at all to the papers, the better to build a groundswell of feeling that their client is the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
The long retired Stan Jones recently told the Essex Chronicle that Bamber "consistently presents material which has already been discussed and adjudicated on in court and appeal hearings”, manipulating its supposed meaning to support his claim to be wrongly convicted.