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Editor in "Straw quit" call

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Matlock Mercury editor Don Hale has called for Home Secretary Jack Straw’s resignation – after what he calls further “bureaucratic bungles” that meant Stephen Downing’s continued detention in prison.

Stephen (44), from Stanton View, Bakewell, has spent 27 years in prison for the murder of Wendy Sewell in the town’s cemetery in September 1973 – a crime he denies committing.

The case was referred to the Court of Appeal two weeks ago but Downing remains in prison – a position Mr Hale believes is in breach of his human rights.

Campaigner Mr Hale is also demanding a public statement from Tony Blair, following his personal intervention at last week’s Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Mr Blair, who was challenged by West Derbyshire MP Patrick McLoughlin, admitted that he too shared the concern over the case, and said he would take personal responsibility for the investigation.

Last week, the Mercury – which has fought a six-year campaign – also called on the Government to launch a public inquiry into Derbyshire Constabulary’s handling of the case.

The editor ignored a 15-month visiting ban on Stephen last week, when he persuaded the governor at Littlehey to grant him a visit to try to break the bail-busting deadlock.

Mr Hale travelled to the prison last Thursday afternoon for an exclusive interview and was able to see for himself, how Stephen was coping with enforced imprisonment.

Mr Hale told Mercury readers this week: “Tony Blair has put himself in charge of the investigations. Another week has now gone by and there is nothing to show for it.

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