Steve, who later went on to run a successful paparazzi picture agency, berated me about my Richey fixation when I bumped into him on the school run this morning, having read a couple of my previous posts on the issue.
Then, as if to prove the case has an inescapable pull on journalists from Edinburgh of a certain vintage, he came over all misty eyed to share with me his own memories and experiences of covering the Richey case in the early 1990s.
Young Swalks had just finished a spell at Radio Froth when he headed South shortly after meeting the woman who was to become his wife and mother to his two boys. At that point Gill was a nurse in Brighton, so it made perfect sense for Swalks to up sticks and try his luck in London.
Promptly he found himself working at the Mail on Sunday. Despite the rather unusual accent he’d adopted during his radio career, bosses at the MoS somehow still managed to work out he was Scottish. So he was promptly dispatched to the “Jock Box”, a wee executive office populated by two Scottish journalistic legends, Ian Walker (no relation) and Alan Cochrane, now the Daily Telegraph’s political man in Scotland.
Walker, who died tragically in a mountain accident, was the man charged with covering the Richey case and set about it with gusto. This week Swalks has been Googling furiously in an effort to find the piece written by Ian back in 1992, as he assures me it begins with the chessy line: This is a story which has to be told…
The main point Swalks was making is that Ian Walker, a man who’d covered global events including Black September, was convinced of Richey’s innocence.
I’ve already said I suspect he probably was involved in starting the fire which killed a two-year-old girl. But I’m no fan of the US death penalty (read here for a scandal about the US capital of state-sanctioned murder - it’s a postcode lottery) and as far as I’m concerned Richey has served his time and paid his debt to society.
Which raises two points:
Firstly, I’d welcome comments from readers about whether they think Richey was innocent or guilty. It’s easy enough to leave a reply and it would be an interesting straw poll.
And I wonder if some kind soul at the the MoS might search the paper’s cutting system for that piece written by Ian Walker all those years ago – and forward me a copy so I can put Swalks out of his Google Search-hell misery?