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White House Farm murders: Will CCRC dare to interview the invisible policemen who know the truth?

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

Jeremy Bamber

Since its creation, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has spent over 13 years at very considerable cost considering the case of Jeremy Bamber and the White House Farm (WHF) murders when a few enquiries to three police officers could decide the case conclusively. Why has the CCRC not taken action? The crucial question in the WHF case is whether Nevill Bamber was alive at 03:26 on 7 August 1985 and made a telephone call to the police.

For nearly forty years two policemen have remained silent about what they witnessed on the morning of 7 August 1985. These two men are PC1902 Paul Stanley Cracknell and PC1930 Robin Raymond Norcup. They have, in effect, been ‘disappeared’ by Essex Police, their crucial involvement in the case of Jeremy Bamber erased, because they know the truth about who telephoned PC Michael West at Chelmsford Police Station at 03:26 that morning – it was almost certainly Nevill Bamber, not Jeremy Bamber. Nevill Bamber still alive at 03:26 destroys the prosecution case against Jeremy Bamber, so Cracknell and Norcup have been removed from the scenario.

PC’s Cracknell and Norcup left Chelmsford Police Station at 03:33 to attend White House Farm in police vehicle CA5. They were the first policemen to be sent to the farmhouse, directed there by PC Michael West. Cracknell and Norcup were standing in the Control Room at Chelmsford Police Station when PC Michael West received a telephone call at 03:26. As a result of what PC West heard he alerted Police Headquarters where a civilian operator noted:

Daughter gone berserk

Mr Bamber

White House Fm,

Tollshunt (sic) D’Arcy

- daughter Sheila Bamber, aged 26 years has got hold of one of my guns.

Essex Police insist that the above documented information resulted from Jeremy Bamber, not Nevill Bamber, speaking to PC West. As many have pointed out, it is extremely unlikely that Jeremy Bamber would have described his sister, Sheila Caffell, as his “daughter”. As he did not own any guns, he was unlikely to have said “one of my guns” and as he had attended her 28th birthday party a few days earlier he is unlikely to have said that she was aged “26 years”. Additionally, Jeremy Bamber did not live at White House Farm so he would not have given that as his home address. To many observers it seems obvious that the information came from Nevill Bamber.

At Jeremy Bamber’s trial at 10:35 am on 3 October 1986 PC Robin Norcup began his evidence, which lasted for just 15 minutes and included his examination, cross-examination and re-examination. His brief evidence consisted of stating that he arrived at the scene with PC Cracknell. He informed the Court that he had a brief conversation with Jeremy Bamber regarding guns in the house and the fact a gun was kept loaded in case of foxes coming onto the land.

For the defence in cross-examination, Geoffrey Rivlin failed to ask PC Norcup anything about what he discussed with PC West at Chelmsford police station following the phone call at 03:26 that resulted in CA5 with Norcup and Cracknell on board, driving to WHF but not arriving until 50 minutes after leaving Chelmsford. It was an extraordinary omission by Rivlin, given that Jeremy Bamber’s entire future depended on establishing the facts. Additionally, one of the crucial questions is why did they take so long to get to WHF? A journey that could have been completed in 25 minutes took twice as long. Were they told something via radio that caused them to slow down and wait for armed police to attend?

PC Cracknell, although listed to give evidence did not do so, thus the prosecution had successfully avoided any discussion about what was discussed between PC’s West, Cracknell and Norcup.

When Detective Chief Superintendent James Dickinson conducted a review of the case in November 1986 he failed to mention PC’s Cracknell and Norcup in his report and possibly did not even speak to them. His report gives the impression that PC West was on his own in the Control Room and that PC West only despatched one police car to WHF, whereas two police cars were sent initially[1].

The Court of Appeal, in 2002, made no mention of Cracknell and Norcup. They summarised events as follows:

“The police were first alerted that something out of the ordinary had occurred when they received a telephone call from the appellant. The call was logged at 3.36 a.m. but there was evidence that made clear that it must have been at least 10 minutes earlier. The caller was the appellant and having given his name and address he said:

“You’ve got to help me. My father has rang me and said “Please come over. Your sister has gone crazy and has got the gun.” Then the line went dead.”

He went on to say that his sister had a history of psychiatric illness and he confirmed that there were guns at his father’s house, which was White House Farm, Tolleshunt D’Arcy in Essex. The telephonist contacted the Police Information Room and a police car was despatched to the father’s address. The appellant was asked to meet the police there”[2].

The CCRC, in rejecting Bamber’s submission in 2012, said the following, again omitting any mention of Cracknell and Norcup or police vehicle CA5.

Report of incident at White House Farm by Mr Bamber to Essex Police

1. At around 3:26 am on Wednesday 7th August 1985, Jeremy Bamber telephoned Chelmsford Police Station and spoke with PC 1990, Michael West. Mr Bamber informed PC West that he, Mr Bamber, had just received a telephone call from his father, Ralph Neville Bamber. PC West recorded that Mr Bamber told him that Ralph Neville had just called Mr Bamber from White House Farm. PC West noted that Mr Bamber said that Ralph Neville had said “please come over, your sister has gone crazy and has the gun". Mr Bamber told PC West that the line then went. dead. Mr Bamber said that he had tried to call Ralph Neville, but the line was "engaged"; he had then called the police. PC West confirmed with Mr Bamber that Sheila had access to guns at White House Farm.

2. PC West, whilst Mr Bamber was still on the line, contacted the Essex Police Information Room and was informed that Witham Police Station area car (manned by Police Sergeant Bews and police constables Saxby and Myall, operating under the call sign CA7) was available to investigate Mr Bamber's report. CA7 was then dispatched to investigate what was happening at White House Farm. PC West informed Mr Bamber that CA7 was going to investigate what was happening at White House Farm and asked Mr Bamber to go to White House Farm and liaise with the police when they arrived. Mr. Bamber agreed to go to White House Farm and assist the police.

Initial police attendance at White House Farm

CA7 left Witham Police Station at around 3:35 am and proceeded towards White House Farm”.

All official accounts are incorrect, whether by accident or design. It is obvious that if Cracknell and Norcup had witnessed a conversation between PC West and Jeremy Bamber at 03:26 then they would have given evidence in court to that effect and there would have been no doubt then that Nevill Bamber was dead at 03:26. Indeed, such evidence would have been conclusive and irrefutable.

The fact that neither Cracknell or Norcup was asked to state what happened in the Control Room is strongly suggestive that the 03:26 phone call was from Nevill Bamber, indicating that Jeremy Bamber is innocent[3] Essex Police have successfully concealed the existence of Cracknell and Norcup; TV documentaries and fictionalised dramas about the case make no mention of them either, therefore the public has been kept in the dark. Cracknell and Norcup have become invisible.

Accordingly, it seems that from the outset that Essex Police have concealed the existence of PC’s Cracknell and Norcup. The concealment started as early as November 1986 with the Dickinson Report which failed to mention them or their pivotal role in early events. People simply stopped mentioning Cracknell and Norcup. It is questionable whether the CCRC even knows that they exist, or their role in events. The CCRC repeatedly brags about their unique powers of investigation but a perusal of the statements of reasons sent to Jeremy Bamber reveals that they have never sought out PC’s Cracknell and Norcup to ask them what they heard in the Control Room. It is unforgiveable that the CCRC has shown no interest in what these two officers witnessed given its significance in establishing Jeremy Bamber’s innocence or guilt. However, it is not too late for these fabled CCRC powers to be used; how about getting in touch with the two officers to ask them what they heard and what they discussed with PC West?


[1] CA5 with Cracknell and Norcup at 03:33 and CA7 with Sgt. Bews and PC’s Saxby and Myall at 03:35 [2] Neutral Citation No: [2002] EWCA Crim 2912 para 7 [3] This is a similar situation to the bloody fingerprints found in the bible adjacent to Sheila Caffell’s body. If the fingerprints had been Jeremy Bamber’s then the evidence would have been produced at trial. The fact that it was not and Essex Police won’t reveal whose fingerprints were discovered points to a different suspect.

By Bill Robertson

Bill Robertson has researched alleged miscarriages of justice for around 20 years and advised on several cases, including the most recent application to the CCRC by Jeremy Bamber.

Please let us know if you think that there is a mistake in this article, explaining what you think is wrong and why. We will correct any errors as soon as possible.

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