Ruth Wyner and John Brock

The Cambridge Two

Support the Cambridge Two

This site ( is here to record the injustice suffered by the charity workers, Ruth Wyner and John Brock, of Wintercomfort, and to provide information that their supporters may find useful.

Ruth and John have now been freed, after more than 200 days in prison. On Dec 21, 2000, the appeal judges said that the convictions would stand, but the sentences were reduced to 18 months.

See also and (formerly for more information.

The struggle to introduce sanity into drugs policy goes on:

Email group for supporters - keep informed!

An email list `cam2@egroups' has been set up to help people keep up to date on information, demonstrations, events. You can join the list by going to the cam2-egroups site, by using the form here -->
or by sending an e-mail to; you can receive the group messages in various forms by email, or read them on the egroups web site. To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
Join the Cam2 Email Group
cam2 archive Hosted by

What's new:

"Not Guilty" will be playing a celebration Cambridge Two gig on Sunday evening, March 18th, at the Man in the Moon, Norfolk Street.

Peter Bottomley is pressing for a Royal pardon. An appeal to the House of Lords is possible, as is an appeal to Europe.

`Reality Check' Rally, Saturday January 27th, CANCELLED.

Join the email list to keep informed of news.

Pictures of Cambridge Ultimate Frisbee squad supporting the Cambridge Two.
There is a second email list, `cam2c@egroups' (note the extra `c' in cam2c) for the Cambridge Two Action Committee to communicate with itself. Contact to have your email address added to cam2c.

Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
The Cambridge Two

Cambridge Ultimate Frisbee squad supporting the Cambridge Two.

Strange Blue student squad at the indoor championships
The two teams, Strange Blue One and "Cambridge Two" at the Mixed Ultimate tournament in Cambridge

Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
The Cambridge Two

Questions and Answers

Q: How can I write to Ruth or John?
Their address is: Ruth Wyner, EH6524 / John Brock EM4946. HM Prison, Highpoint, Stradishall, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 9YG.

Q: And to our MPs?
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. Anne Campbell, James Paice, and Andrew Lansley are the three Cambridgeshire MPs.
Everyone is encouraged to write to their own MPs, whether in Cambridgeshire or not -- Ruth and John's situation is relevant to the whole nation.
Find your MP: Commons locata.
You can write to all the following ministers at two addresses, first House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA, and second, at their other office addresses. ( Reason is that their post is probably filtered by two different sets of people, civil servants and/or political advisers in Downing Street and Home Office, whereas post addressed to them at the Commons will possibly go through a secretary or political adviser rather than civil servant. More chance of it getting to the intended recipient. Even if it doesn't, it still gets seen by a different bunch of people and the more noise we make the better.) Rt Hon Tony Blair MP. Prime Minister & First Lord of The Treasury.
Rt Hon Jack Straw MP. Secretary of State for the Home Department.
Mr Paul Boateng MP. Minister of State & Deputy Home Secretary
Charles Clarke MP. Minister of State (Home Office)
Address labels: For your convenience, here is a page to print out that has all the addresses on it.

Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
The Cambridge Two
Q: How can I send support to their families?
There are two linked organisations supporting Ruth and John.
  • a support fund co-ordinated by the Senior Bursar at St. John's College Cambridge, Dr. George Reid, to aid Ruth and John and their families - both are married with children in school. Anyone interested in contributing to this fund can do so at the following address:
         "Overstream Support Fund"
         Barclays Bank, 
         Bene't Street, 
         PO Box 2, 
         CAMBRIDGE CB2 3PZ, 
         United Kingdom
         A/c 40495018 S/c 20-17-19
    Information packs, including standing order forms, are available from
         Dr. George Reid, 
         Senior Bursar
         St. John's College, 
         CAMBRIDGE CB2 1TP, 
         United Kingdom
         Tel: +44 (0) 1223 338627 / Fax: +44 (0) 1223 338762
  • Contact The Cambridge Two Campaign, Alexander Masters 513 033, at 6 Hertford St. CB4 3AG. The campaign does not use email at the moment.

Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
The Cambridge Two
Q: Where can I get the petition, poster, and other materials, from?
You can get the petitions from Alexander Masters 513 033, at 6 Hertford St. CB4 3AG. Please return them to him.
A new petition is being prepared (August 2000).
Old links: You can download the old petition from here: postscript | pdf | dvi | latex The poster is here: | gif |

Here is a Logo (27K jpeg) that you can use on paperwork / placards.
For your websites: | Animated banner (gif) | | Logo (gif) | (Suggestion: add links to from these images)

Sheet of flyers: (great for giving to people who ask you about your badge!)
| compressed postscript file (247K) | pdf file |

Q: Where can I get T-shirts, and eye-catching badges, from?
You can get T-shirts (S/M/L/XL) for 5 pounds plus 1 pound p+p from Alexander Masters 513 033, at 6 Hertford St. CB4 3AG. (email: The t-shirts are white with black and red words and pictures on front and rear. They are good quality 100% cotton shirts.
Also, badges for 1 pound each. August 2000: There are new stickers for the badges, which read CLEAR the Cambridge Two. Ask Alexander.

Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
The Cambridge Two
Q: Does anyone know if I can get hold of a copy of the trial transcript in this case?
I have scanned in a copy of the sentencing comments here; replies to these comments by the Cambridge Two campaign are here. (copied from the wintercomfort-justice site).
I have also scanned in a copy of the summing-up (85 pages).

A transcript of the trial will cost the first person that requests it around #16k. Yes, sixteen thousand pounds! Some hope for public accountability of justice. After that it may be cheaper to other comers.

Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
The Cambridge Two
Q: What else can I do?
  • See the "latest news"
  • An old list of requests for help from the action committee (March 9th 2000)
  • Mark Thomas has some more suggestions here.

    Q: Where can I get other questions answered?
    You could look at the FAQ here: / or try sending email to If these routes fail, try asking on the email list.

  • Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
    Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
    The Cambridge Two

    Newspaper articles about the Cambridge Two

    See also andy simpson's site and Student News for more.
                                    The Observer (London)
                                  January 9, 2000
       HEADLINE: WITHOUT PREJUDICE: A sentence too far for the judge who said
       too much
        Nick Cohen
           LAWYERS, LIKE the criminals they represent, regard grasses as
       slimeballs. They may fight for advantage, bicker about the division of
       the loot and assasinate colleagues' characters with the relish of
       serial killers; these are acceptable, even laudable, ways to behave,
       as long as they are kept in the family and the outside world is left
       in ignorance of the law's steamier side.
       It says much about the disgust Judge Jonathan Haworth inspired when he
       imprisoned Ruth Wyner and John Brock for five and four years
       respectively that briefs are now ignoring the career-destroying risks
       which threaten narks who break the omerta of the Bar. As we reported
       last week, one of the many peculiar aspects of this disgraceful
       prosecution was that the judge said in public before the case was over
       that he was going to jail the charity workers because the desperate
       homeless had taken drugs in or near their Cambridge shelter.
       Judges are meant to have learned to hold their tongues before they are
       elevated to the bench. They are also required to maintain at least the
       appearance that their minds are open until that last moment when all
       the evidence has been heard and pleas of mitigation and reports on the
       circumstances of the defendants have been delivered. In this instance,
       when the suspects did not have criminal records, when they had
       abandoned comfortable lives to provide what help they could to the
       destitute, when no one was suggesting that they had taken heroin, or
       sold heroin, or laundered drug money when, indeed, the police had
       approved their policies of banning drug dealers from their day centres
       and rehabilitating addicts most people would consider it to be no more
       than common courtesy that they should be the first to know they were
       going to be banged up for years in our stinking prison system.
       In an affidavit to the Court of Appeal, Karim Khalil, Wyner's
       barrister, bravely relates how he was getting ready to go into hear
       what sentence Haworth would impose when a fellow lawyer said that the
       judge had announced already at a party his determination to send his
       client down.
       I've no doubt that this would be pooh-poohed as unsubstantiated gossip
       by the Appeal Court if other witnesses weren't prepared to back him
       up. The bash at which the garrulous judge announced his sentence was
       to mark the fiftieth birthday of Gareth Hawkesworth, a local
       barrister. Everyone who mattered in the tight, little world of the
       Cambridge criminal justice system was there. Guests collared Haworth
       about the trial of Wyner and Brock which had scandalised liberal
       opinion in the city. Surely, asked one, he was not even thinking of
       treating them as dangerous villains.
       He certainly was. 'He said he was going to lock them up,' a lawyer who
       was present told me. 'He went on and on about how there were drug
       dealers in the shelters and how Wyner and Brock had to be punished.
       Lots of people heard.'
       My lawyer faced a dilemma. He was a friend of Wyner's. She had been on
       bail since her arrest and he was seeing her for dinner in a couple of
       days. Was he meant to stay silent and calm her nerves with lying
       platitudes that all would be well? Or to warn her that she'd better
       kiss her husband and children goodbye because Haworth had told him he
       had it in for her? His colleagues advised him to keep quiet or suffer
       the consequences.
       'For the first time in my life I felt ashamed to be a lawyer,' he
       said. 'I know the judge, the prosecutors and the police and am ashamed
       for them and of them. Cambridge has become like a rotten, small town
       in the Deep South. Perhaps we should get John Grisham over to write
       about us.'
       He doesn't want to be named just yet, but points out that, if the
       Court of Appeal doubts Khalil's affidavit, he and others will have a
       duty as respectable citizens to come forward and give evidence under
       oath. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to covering the
       The Observer has had scores of letters and phone calls from readers
       wanting to help Wyner and Brock. I'm sorry not to have had the time to
       answer them all. If you want to join the support campaign you can
       contact The Cambridge Two Action Committee at 146 Scotland Road,
       Cambridge, CB4 1QQ. Its numbers are 01223 513033/721685. There is an
       e-mail address and there is also a website at

    Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
    Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
    The Cambridge Two
                                    The Observer
                                  January 2, 2000
     WITHOUT PREJUDICE: Jailed for doing her job;
       The sentencing to prison of two charity workers has shocked and
       scandalised Cambridge
        Nick Cohen
           ON 17 DECEMBER at King's Lynn Crown Court, a representative
       section of the Cambridge intelligentsia was pushed as close as its
       good manners and quiet temperament permitted to riot. Judge Jonathan
       Haworth, a new beak who has been delivering stern sentences from the
       moment his bottom hit the bench, put Ruth Wyner and John Brock on the
       casualty list of the unwinnable war on drugs.
       Their punishment was commonplace, but their offence was distinctive.
       No one suggested they were heroin dealers or users. The prosecution
       didn't allege that they were money launderers, racketeers taking
       protection money, or Channel Island bankers wary of inquiring too
       closely about the provenance of the large piles of notes that passed
       through entrepreneurs' accounts. The hapless couple didn't look like
       gangsters; to be frank, no drug baron would have been seen dead in
       their mousy clothes. By the standards of what used to be conventional
       morality, Wyner and Brock were admirable people who had followed the
       instructions of Tony Blair and Louise Casey, his Homelessness Tsarina,
       and got beggars off the streets and in to Wintercomfort, an acclaimed
       network of refuges in Cambridge that supplied hot food, tea, washing
       machines, baths, GPs, advice on finding homes and jobs and, indeed,
       rehabilitation from drug addiction.
       Haworth was unimpressed. The jury had found them guilty of allowing
       the sale of heroin at their day centres and they had to be punished
       for their 'deliberately obstructive' behaviour. As he wound himself up
       with ever more chilling descriptions of their 'perverse' refusal to
       show remorse and the 'dreadful circumstances' at Wintercomfort,
       spectators didn't need Mystic Meg to predict the sequel. One fraught
       woman interrupted his harangue with a shout of: 'I was on drugs for 20
       years until Wintercomfort helped me.' She was silenced.
       The judge gave Ruth Wyner five years and John Brock four harsher
       punishments than he had imposed on the heroin dealers who had been
       netted in their hostels. They gripped the dock rail. Catcalls and sobs
       filled the courtroom. Wyner's 21-year-old son, Joel, bellowed at the
       judge: 'You scum. You ought to be arrested.' But it was the young man
       who was arrested and ordered to apologise or be sent to join his
       mother in the cells for contempt of court.
       The hard-man act over, Haworth made a characteristically modern switch
       from brutalism to sentimentality and cooed his best wishes to the
       charity's appalled volunteers and patrons. 'Finally, I wish to say a
       word to those who so selflessly give of their time and money to aid
       the work of Wintercomfort. I hope they will emerge from this unhappy
       episode strengthened in the knowledge that their purposes are
       laudable.' His Pecksniffery was intolerable. The public in the gallery
       stood up before he was half way through his peroration and walked out.
       Gordon Wyner, Ruth's husband, tried to lunge at a policeman in the
       corridor and had to be held back by his friends. The next night, 100
       people protested outside Parkside police station in Cambridge, where
       Wyner was being held before being transported to Holloway, and picked
       an action committee to organise an appeal.
       Peter Bottomley, a Conservative MP with liberal leanings, has put down
       questions in Parliament. The answers should make interesting reading.
       The undercover police operation at Wintercomfort has not only brought
       misfortune to the Wyner and Brock families but shown that the national
       fad for zero tolerance not only encourages the hounding of the
       destitute but also the persecution of those who help them.
       In The Observer a few weeks ago, Louise Casey instructed us to
       recognise that the greedy homeless were spongeing off 'well-meaning
       people' whose charity 'perpetuated the problem'. The metropolis, with
       its anodyne culture, tacky domes, cigar bars and beguiling cuisines
       from all over the globe, doesn't like its business disturbed by ragged
       bundles in doorways. The smug orthodoxy of the comfortable is not to
       blame for poverty but the Salvation Army and the Big Issue, which
       pretend to want to clean up the mess.
       In many respects, Cambridge has been a better example of the
       theme-park city than the capital. Its medieval architecture blends
       with businesses in the vanguard of the new economy. The wealthier
       students and silicon fenlanders have produced fantastically high house
       prices and an atmosphere of hip propriety. Like London, it has
       attracted tramps, in part because there are generous tourists to tap;
       in part because the poor, like everyone else, prefer pleasant scenery
       to a slum.
       Sooner or later, they heard about Ruth Wyner and Wintercomfort. By
       most accounts, she is an inspirational woman. Alexander Masters, an
       author who helps out at the charity, spoke for many when he said: 'I'm
       absolutely devoted to her, she's marvellous.' Wyner began work with
       the homeless when her brother had a breakdown, took to the streets and
       ended up diving to his death from the top floor of a hostel. Under her
       leadership, it won pounds 400,000 of lottery money for a new shelter.
       Cambridge aca demics the vice chancellor of the University,
       theologians and dons gave their support. She became a celebrity who
       was often in the local press. On one occasion, she warned about the
       spread of drugs after a man had died of a heroin overdose in a
       Wintercomfort bathroom.
       For all that, she had her enemies. 'Some saw her as a modern saint,'
       said a Cambridge lawyer. 'To others, she was a middle-class do-gooder
       a pointy head and ageing hippy who had probably tried drugs herself at
       some point and was certainly bringing addicts into the city.' The
       neighbours of the new day centre she wanted to open protested noisily
       and a faction within Cambridgeshire police's criminal investigation
       department decided to go for her.
       At first sight, they appeared to have an impossible task. Homelessness
       and drug taking go together (if you need to ask why they search for
       oblivion, you should try to get out more). The simple division between
       drug users and dealers breaks down on the briefest of examinations.
       Many desperate people buy drugs, sell half at a small profit and take
       the rest themselves. They're scarcely Napoleons of crime.
       A confusingly named Inspector Constable sat on the charity's advisory
       board but never warned Wyner she faced prosecution. When the police
       told her that drugs were on sale, she banned anyone dealing in or
       suspected of dealing in drugs from the centres. Constable agreed her
       policy was sensible and all appeared well. But Cambridgeshire CID
       wanted her to take zero tolerance a step further by giving them the
       names of the alleged dope peddlers. At this point, Wyner drew the
       line. She had to defend confidentiality. If everyone who took drugs
       thought that they would be shopped, trust would evaporate and her
       lectures on the virtues of detoxification would play to an empty
       Faced with such an unpromising inquiry, the authorities' determination
       to destroy her necessitated weird and expensive tactics. Two officers,
       codenamed Ed and Swampy, posed as derelicts and hung around
       Wintercomfort as agents provocateurs. They asked to buy heroin and
       recorded the transactions on hidden cameras. In all, 300 hours of
       surveillance tape were collected. Buried in the footage were shots of
       pounds 10 packages of heroin being exchanged in handshakes. None of
       the cameras caught Wyner or any other member of the small staff
       nodding approvingly in the background. The case seemed weak and the
       internal politics of the Cambridgeshire force muddle-headed. Wyner and
       Brock's lawyers expected it to be thrown out by the judge as an abuse
       of the judicial process.
       But Judge Haworth and the prosecutors said dealers were coming from
       miles to deliver the global smack market to its customers (one crook,
       who turned queen's evidence, claimed to be making pounds 1,000 a week)
       and concluded that Wyner must, somehow, have known what was going on.
       The judge was so keen to issue draconian punishments that he allegedly
       boasted at a soiree about the sentences he was preparing to hand down.
       In an affidavit which will be presented to the Court of Appeal, Karim
       Khalil, Wyner's barrister, said he was putting his wig on in the court
       robing room on the day his client was due to be sentenced when he was
       told Haworth, while tucking into his food at a dinner party, had told
       fellow diners that he was going to send the charity workers down.
       You might say it is already being said that Wyner and Brock have well
       placed and articulate defenders and the Court of Appeal will surely
       let them out of jail. I wouldn't necessarily be confident that the
       senior judiciary will slap down Haworth, a judge whose empathy with
       the prejudices of these hard times foretells rapid promotion.
       Even if they are released, much damage will have been done. Wyner, as
       you would expect, is holding up well in Holloway. In a prison letter
       to her friends, she says she is 'feeling a lot more cheerful'. After a
       'hellish journey' and a 'difficult couple of days', she overcame her
       problems with 'one of the screws' and had 'quickly developed my prison
       John Brock is another matter. He was a signwriter who gave up his
       reasonably steady job to work for the charity. He collapsed after his
       arrest. When the chaplain at Bedford jail phoned his wife before
       Christmas, her first thought was that he had killed himself.
       Sceptical journalists your correspondent included tend to mock the
       tough love of the Prime Minister and his tsars and tsarinas as mere
       posturing. It's a little too easy to forget that the wretched and the
       few who want to do something about their condition suffer for their

    Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
    Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
    The Cambridge Two
                               The Guardian (London)
                                 December 15, 1999
     A poke in the blind eye;
       Two key workers at a day centre in Cambridge are facing prison
       sentences this week after being convicted of failing to prevent drug
       dealing on the premises. Janet Snell on a case that has sent
       shockwaves through groups working with vulnerable people
           Ruth Wyner, director of a day centre for the homeless in
       Cambridge, is bracing herself to spend Christmas and the New Year in
       Holloway Prison because four of her clients were caught supplying
       On Friday, Wyner and her project manager, John Brock, who have both
       been found guilty of allowing the supply of heroin on their premises,
       will appear for senten cing. The judge has warned them he is
       considering all options, including a jail term. The maximum sentence
       is 14 years or an unlimited fine.
       The hearing will take place in a small court in King's Lynn, yet it
       has massive implications for everyone working with groups such as the
       homeless and young people who might come into contact with drugs.
       Wyner and Brock fell foul of the law because, although they had banned
       some clients for suspected dealing, they were deemed not to have taken
       all 'reasonable' steps to stamp out drugs. The judge reprimanded them
       for not installing closed circuit television and mirrors to observe
       clients, and for failing to close the centre down when they thought
       dealing may be going on.
       It also counted against them in court that when police had asked for a
       copy of their banned book, listing those who had been barred from the
       centre, the pair had declined to hand it over because they felt it
       breached confidentiality.
       Undercover officers mounted a surveillance operation in which they
       filmed small quantities of heroin changing hands at the Wintercomfort
       day centre in the West Chesterton area of Cambridge. The place was
       raided and four clients arrested. Wyner was also taken into custody
       and questioned for several hours, then both she and Brock were
       Their trial lasted seven weeks in what has been seen as a test case
       and their convictions have sent shockwaves throughout the sector.
       Kevin Flemen, senior project officer with Release, says the case has
       created a lot of anxiety among staff working with vulnerable groups.
       'The message from the authorities is that you must prevent supplying
       taking place,' he says. 'Doing your best is not good enough - you have
       to stop it. As about 80% of this client group are using drugs that's
       no easy task, but now clearly the stakes have been raised'.
       Release has issued new guidance updating its previous report, No Room
       for Drugs, urging organisations to look closely at their management
       and staff training policies and to take a more proactive role
       supervising buildings.
       'More than anything you must avoid opening yourself up to accusations
       of turning a blind eye,' says Flemen. 'But there's a balance to be
       struck because if people don't feel they can go to an agency and talk
       to staff openly you just won't get them into the service.
       'This is a very difficult client group to work with and if direct
       access organisations like Wintercomfort turn them away there's no one
       else that will take them. The reality is you have to work with people
       who supply because most of them are just small time users who need
       help. Calling in the police is not the panacea the courts seem to
       think it is.'
       He also warns that criminalising those who work with these groups
       could jeopardise the government's attempt at 'joined up thinking' on
       drugs policy as set out in the 1998 white paper, Tackling Drugs to
       Build a Better Britain.
       'We need dedicated staff - people like Ruth Wyner and John Brock - to
       help deliver that policy, and yet they are treated like this,' he
       says. 'The work is exhausting and chaotic at the best of times. You
       can expect to be assaulted by clients, they sometimes die on you, and
       now you stand to end up in jail just for trying to do your job. What's
       the motivation for people in this field?'
       Pauline McDonald, co-ordinator of the National Day Centre Project,
       agrees. 'The government says it wants to support marginalised groups,
       yet because of this judgment you will deter people from wanting to
       work with them. Projects for drug misusers, alcoholics and those with
       mental health problems are going to be totally undermined by this. And
       what about prisons, psychiatric hospitals, clubs, pubs? The fallout
       from this case is huge.'
       Sarah Jones, chair of the Wintercomfort trustees, says since the
       arrests in early 1998 the centre's staff have kept it going under very
       difficult circumstances. 'The bad publicity led to a big drop in our
       funding,' she says. 'We were in dire trouble up to this September, but
       we had a major fundraising drive and at the 11th hour it all came
       'It's a busy centre - we see between 70-100 people every day - but as
       a result of this case we have had to change from an open door policy
       to one where people make an appointment to come in.'
       Jones believes that although the arrests were presented as an attempt
       to stop drug dealing, they have merely driven it underground. She
       says: 'I think Cambridge constabulary felt it was something they had
       to do. Some of the more affluent locals can't bear the thought of
       these ugly addicts living in their beautiful city, and the police went
       along with that.'
       Other agencies in Cambridge working with the homeless, including St
       Mungo's, the Cyrenians and English Churches, have tightened up their
       policy and will go to the police if clients are caught dealing.
       But Brian Holman, manager of Cambridge Cyrenians, says: 'I've never
       had a case where I could say, 'That person was definitely dealing.'
       The evidence is always circumstantial, but now we're supposed to go to
       the police with our suspicions, where previously we would have issued
       a warning.'
       He adds: 'It's a balancing act. We want to co-operate with the police,
       but we also want to build a relationship of trust with our clients.'
       Meanwhile, Wyner and Brock sit at home and wait. Wyner says her main
       emotion at the moment is bewilderment. 'I felt I was running a
       professional project and what happened came completely out of the
       blue. Clearly we hadn't been totally effective, but that's the nature
       of heroin use. We had tightened up and the fact that staff were
       banning people suggests they were tackling the problem.'
       She adds that she has been told she can probably expect to go to
       prison on Friday, 'so I must prepare myself for that. I have a
       16-year-old daughter in the middle of GCSEs and a son at university
       and I must prepare them too. The thought of being away from them and
       my husband is a daunting prospect, especially coming up to Christmas.
       'But I would like to say to other people working in the field: don't
       give up. I plan to mount an appeal to try to straighten things out
       because, as the law stands, it makes it impossible to work with this
       client group.'

    Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
    Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
    The Cambridge Two
                              The Independent (London)
                             January 20, 2000, Thursday
        Ian Burrell And Cherry Norton
       THROUGH THE windows of her cell, charity worker Ruth Wyner watches the
       wagtails flying over the 25ft-high perimeter fence.
       She writes: "I'm envious as I watch them swoop the high fences at
       will, see the clouds scud across the wide East Anglian skies I have
       learnt to love, raise my eyes to the tops of the few tall trees,
       constantly reminded of the ever-present restrictions of my new life."
       Wyner, 49, has just finished the first month of a five- year sentence
       following a criminal conviction that has shocked the charity world.
       With her colleague John Brock, also 49, she was held responsible for
       allowing heroin dealing among homeless clients at the drop-in centre
       they ran in Cambridge. Mr Brock was sentenced to four years.
       The sentencing at Cambridge Crown Court last month has provoked
       uproar, with thousands of people, including the local MP and
       university dignitaries joining a campaign for their release.
       This morning hundreds of protestors are expected to attend the Royal
       Courts of Justice in London, where the pair will seek leave to appeal
       against their conviction and sentence.
       During his summing up at the trial, Judge Jonathan Haworth, accused
       Wyner and Brock of creating a "haven for heroin dealers" at their
       drop-in centre, where police had mounted an undercover investigation
       into drug use in 1998. Part of the prosecution case rested on the
       evidence of a convicted heroin dealer.
       The judge said the defendants' use of a confidentiality ruling - which
       prevented them from reporting people to the police - had effectively
       made them responsible for the drug dealing on the premises.
       Ruth Wyner had worked with the homeless for 23 years, much of it
       dedicated to helping people whose lives had been wrecked by drug
       Gordon Bell, her husband of 25 years and also a charity worker for the
       homeless, said: "Ruth hated the effect of drugs but she was always
       pragmatic rather than evangelical about them. She would say, 'Let's
       get you into detox'. She hated the look of the zombies but when you
       work in the homeless sector you live with it every day."
       It is part of the irony of Wyner's plight that she began her sentence
       sharing a cell with three drug offenders at HMP Holloway, north
       London. During the night she listened to the "clucking" of one of her
       cellmates coming off heroin.
       In a letter to her husband, she claimed her life has been "cruelly
       torn away", with conditions in Holloway "degradation that is beyond
       Now from Highpoint prison in Suffolk she has admitted incarceration
       came as a great shock to her. She wrote: "Prison life is harsher, more
       restrictive and more of an assault on the person than I could ever
       have imagined. The environment constantly reminds me that the
       intention of jail is to hurt me, cause damage even, and I know I need
       to be as self-protective as I can.
       "An article I wrote for The Independent was stopped and I'm told I
       have to make an application to the governor to send things to the
       Wyner, a native Londoner, moved to Norwich in the early Seventies to
       work as a journalist but left o write a novel which was never
       She met her husband Gordon in 1973 - he played guitar and she played
       keyboards in the same local rock band - and they were so hard up they
       lived rough for a year. She began working with the homeless in 1976
       and became known as a brave and conscientious defender of their
       The couple moved to Cambridge five years ago when Wyner was appointed
       director of the Wintercomfort homeless charity. Brock, a former
       college lecturer, was project manager of the charity's drop-in centre,
       Overstream House.
       Homelessness was a problem in Cambridge and the support provided by
       the centre won it high-profile backers and the promise of a major
       government grant to expand its work.
       But Overstream House, set in an affluent area of the city near the
       boathouse of St John's College on the banks of the River Cam, became a
       victim of its own success. Retailers complained about the activities
       of homeless clients and rumours were circulated that the centre was
       "anti-police". When Cambridgeshire officers identified Overstream
       House as the key link in heroin dealing in the city, it launched
       Operation Wythall. Police dressed as homeless people and filmed
       secretly for two months. Wyner and Brock were arrested in July, 1998.
       Their conviction has stunned the National Homeless Alliance, which
       said people with drugs problems would now be turned away from homeless
       shelters. The Alliance also predicted that headteachers and prison
       governors could become liable for drug dealing on their premises.
       Anne Campbell, MP for Cambridge, said she was hoping to get an
       adjournment debate next week in the House of Commons on the case. "The
       conviction and the sentencing are both outrageous. It does not serve
       any useful purpose to jail these two people and makes working with the
       homeless more difficult for everyone.
       "Mistakes were made by Wintercomfort in the way they dealt with drug
       dealing but convicting them as a way of changing professional practice
       is outrageous."
       Since being sentenced Brock has suffered what he described as "despair
       and depression" in Bedford prison. He was assessed by prison staff as
       being at risk of self-harm.
       In a letter he said: "I have to admit I have taken all this rather
       badly. Nothing prepares the person who has spent 50 years as a
       law-abiding citizen and has had a respect for those who enforce the
       laws, for prison. I, perhaps rather naively, thought that I, and
       others like me in this field of work, the Government and the law all
       shared a common aim in tackling the this country's drug problem. I
       have to believe that this is still the case."
       Last night his wife Louise said: "It has been such a shock for him, a
       total disbelief at being put in prison. He still thinks justice will
       be seen to be done but even if we are given leave to appeal it will
       not be heard for another six months."
       Brock's 10-year-old son, Dylan, has written to Jack Straw, asking the
       Home Secretary to release his father.
       "My dad has been hit, abused and even threatened with a knife but he
       has always stuck with his job. ... I think it is unfair and unjust
       that my dad should be put in prison for doing his bit for caring for
       the homeless," he wrote.
       Wyner's children have also been left deeply distressed by their
       mother's position. Rachel, 16, has begun a protest petition among
       children and teachers at her Cambridge school. Joel, 22, who is doing
       a masters in music composition at Birmingham University attended the
       final day of the trial and was left "angry and emotional" at the
       outcome, his father said.
       In her cell, Wyner has pictures of her children stuck to her wall with
       "In here, I feel out of sight and out of mind with virtually no
       rights," she writes. "I keep having dreams of being hurt and left out,
       which is presumably what the government and judiciary think we
       GRAPHIC: 'Prison is meant to hurt you,' says Ruth Wyner, serving five
       years.; Right, a letter to her husband Gordon tells how she was banned
       from writing for 'The Independent' Brian Harris

    Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
    Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
    The Cambridge Two
                                  Birmingham Post
                             January 1, 2000, Saturday
        David Wilson
       In the two years that I have been writing this column I have sustained
       an argument against the direction pursued by successive governments in
       relation to drugs.
       I have argued that our drugs policy, which is essentially punitive,
       will do nothing to halt the spread of drugs within our community and
       have instead suggested how decriminalising the use of drugs, and
       better treatment initiatives, will ultimately "fight a war" on drugs
       much more effectively than any number of drugs Tsars could.
       As evidence for these views I have cited the Prison Service's
       misdirected mandatory drug treatment policy - which because of the
       nature of the test seems to have encouraged more prisoners to switch
       from cannabis to heroin, and the results of an experiment in
       Switzerland which has pursued a path of de-criminalisation.
       This rather long preamble to this week's column has, I hoped, set the
       scene for the bizarre and tragically misjudged story of the
       incarceration of John Brock and Ruth Wyner - the former jailed for
       four and the latter for five years - for "knowingly permitting" heroin
       to be supplied at the Wintercomfort drop-in centre for the homeless in
       How this was established was as a result of a police undercover
       operation - by two officers known as "Ed" and "Swampy" - who recorded
       drug deals in the centre using a secret camera.
       Is it too much to ask whether there was nothing better that these two
       officers could have been doing than snooping on the homeless in a
       charity night shelter?
       At this point please note that "knowingly permitting" does not mean
       that either Brock or Wyner condoned the supply of heroin, or that they
       themselves were in any way involved in the supply of the drug.
       No evidence was presented to suggest that Wyner or Brock actually saw
       the drugs being passed to Ed and Swampy.
       Rather it simply means that these drug deals were taking place within
       a venue that they were responsible for and that, given the nature of
       the clients that use a homeless refuge, that they were aware that
       these clients used drugs.
       I am certain that many people who read this column also have clients,
       and I am equally certain that to protect "client confidentiality" that
       there will be quite a bit that they are aware of, but would not reveal
       to the police or anyone else.
       That is the nature of a professional relationship. After all, how do
       you gain the trust of someone who is an addict? By shopping him to Ed
       and Swampy? I don't think so.
       Rather you have to work with that client and, carefully over time,
       help them to come off of drugs - not because you forced or threatened
       him or her, but rather because they themselves realised that it was
       the best option for an healthy future.
       What does all of this reveal about the Government's drug strategy?
       Should we take their statements about wanting to help people off drugs
       seriously if they go around imprisoning those charity workers who have
       to work with addicts?
       Is there any drugs worker out there who doesn't know that their
       clients use drugs! If there is please write to me and let me know your
       And so as we begin a new millennium Ruth Wyner and John Brock are in
       custody instead of working at Wintercomfort with the people who need
       them most. Can this be justice? Or is it instead merely another
       example of an outrageous drugs policy and overzealous policing?
       Can we start the first campaign of the year now and demand that Ruth
       Wyner and John Brock are granted a pardon - it's the very least that
       they deserve?
       Professor David Wilson is director of the criminal justice, policy and
       practice department of the University of Central England.

    Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
    Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
    The Cambridge Two
    Nick Cohen's article in the Observer (May 7)
    Death of charity
    While New Labour locks up care workers, drugs addicts die on the
    streets for want of a helping hand
    Nick Cohen
    Sunday May 7, 2000
    The Observer (London)
    Louise Casey, the Prime Minister's Homeless Tsarina, told a recent
    conference of those working with drug addicts a terrible story which
    made a mockery of can-do ministers' orders to produce joined-up
    Her Imperial Highness had learned of a Birmingham woman who was so far
    gone she was injecting heroin into her groin. The wretched creature
    was living on the streets. You didn't need to be a clairvoyant to
    realise she wouldn't last long. Casey asked why she hadn't been moved
    into a hostel. The rules forbad the housing of addicts, came the
    Just before Christmas, Casey said it was impertinent to blame the
    sight of beggars in London doorways on social and economic policy.
    Do-gooders were the culprits. The Salvation Army, the Big Issue and
    other 'well-meaning people' were encouraging cadgers by giving them
    nourishing soups and wrapping them in luxurious sleeping bags. If the
    busybodies behaved like honest citizens and wasted their powers
    getting and spending without a thought for others, tourists wouldn't
    leave with ugly memories and the luckier natives would be far more
    Now, in the Midlands, she had found further proof that homelessness
    was the fault of those hypocrites who purported to be concerned.
    'Where the rules are creating obstacles,' she announced, 'we need to
    be breaking the rules.'
    She should know that the case of the Cambridge Two - Ruth Wyner and
    John Brock - revealed that taking in addicts had become a dangerous
    business. The criminalisation of the desperate has been followed by
    the criminalisation of those who help the desperate. Wyner and Brock
    were given five and four years respectively for permitting the use of
    heroin in the Wintercomfort hostel in Cambridge. There was no evidence
    that they had stood by while drugs were taken - they had expelled
    dealers - but dealing was happening without their permission. To make
    matters worse, they protected client confidentiality by not giving the
    names of suspects to the police. These failures were enough to bring
    them sentences far longer than most smack sellers receive.
    The charitable world has been electrified by the punishments for
    following Casey's advice to break the rules. Although toughness is an
    attitude struck by those who proclaim their familiarity with the 'real
    world', in reality a large majority who live rough take solace from
    drugs for reasons anyone who can put themselves in their place can
    comprehend. The verdict meant volunteer or low-paid staff had to
    become police officers. If they found or suspected drug use - a
    laborious job, users can be ingeniously furtive - they were meant to
    throw the culprits out and call the law. The ejected might well become
    more desperate and commit more crimes. They weren't meant to think
    about consequences.
    Even the advisers of addicts trying to get off drugs, have been
    endangered by the verdict. The manager of a Birmingham hostel - no
    names, charity is now a quasi-criminal activity - found a young man
    who wanted to quit. He booked him a place on a rehabilitation
    programme. Because we spend a fortune on the unwinnable war on drugs
    and peanuts on relieving its casualties, there was a six-month waiting
    list. He wanted to give the addict shelter. But it was clear drugs
    would be guzzled until treatment came. Rather than risk arrest, he
    abandoned him to wander who knows where and do who knows what.
    Elementary public health precautions have been pushed to the fringes
    of legality. Officers of Relief, a drugs advice service, have spent
    months dashing round the country trying to persuade councils and
    voluntary organisations not to remove their 'sharps' - bins for used
    syringes. The argument that there had once been bins in Wintercomfort
    had been used to prove Wyner and Brock were looking on drug dealing
    with an indulgent eye. (Wyner removed the bins in 1997, by the way,
    because, as she told Cambridgeshire police, she felt clients might get
    the wrong idea. Her precautions did her no good. Many in Cambridge
    catch a bad smell from her prosecution as a result, and point to the
    vocal protests from well-padded nimbies about the planned building of
    a new Wintercomfort hostel as an alternative explanation for the
    police's refusal to applaud her co-operation.)
    'If the bins go, addicts dump needles in parks, where children can
    pick them up, or stuff them down the back of sofas where someone else
    can hit them accidentally,' said Kevin Flemen from Relief. If,
    however, you try to prevent innocent by-standers being infected, your
    bins might be taken as evidence that you worry about residents
    shooting up - which, indeed, they are.
    The Rev Ian Harker, a drugs' worker at the Manor day centre in central
    London, said the most pernicious effect of the Wintercomfort verdict
    is that the National Homeless Alliance and others are recommending
    with reluctance that hostels abandon 'open door' policies. One of the
    many ways in which Wintercomfort was hoist with its own petard was
    that the apparently admirable attempt to offer a welcome to those who
    had nowhere else to turn was made to sound sinister. The criminal
    bastards weren't checking. Dealers were getting in, and they just
    didn't care.
    Open doors are slamming now. The vicar says the justifiably paranoid
    response to the sentences is deterring many from seeking assistance.
    The picture painted by the Cambridgeshire police notwithstanding, most
    of the homeless aren't monsters from a bourgeois nightmare, but
    chaotic people, scared of just about everyone in authority. If they
    can slip into a centre quietly, they might find the confidence to
    accept help. If they are asked for their name, rank and serial number
    at the door, they might run away.
    Harker and Release are dealing with the mess of addiction. Their lives
    would be a lot simpler if they adopted the crystal dogma of the
    political class. By parroting 'Just Say No' they could avoid all kinds
    of difficult questions. Is it more sensible to accept that drugs are
    being taken and try to coax people off them slowly, than threaten to
    call the police? Would it be wiser to abandon American prejudice and
    retry the old British system of prescribing heroin and cocaine on the
    NHS? It may not be a satisfyingly totalitarian policy, but it would
    stop addicts committing huge numbers of burglaries and slow the
    accumulation of gangsters' wealth and its corruption of the criminal
    justice system. In this instance, only the permissive are tough on
    A neighbour of Wyner and Brock, the Rev Tony Barker, embraced the
    American model at the Baptist Jimmy's hostel in Cambridge. He followed
    zero tolerance to the letter. The merest hint that a tramp took drugs,
    and out he went. Barker was one of the few charity workers to
    sympathise with the police. He fell into the degraded Westminster
    language of gestures and signals when he said that Wyner and Brock's
    deployment of sharp bins - for a while, at any rate - convinced him
    they 'weren't sending a clear message against drugs'.
    Robin Thacker, a 37-year-old, was expelled from Jimmy's on 11 April
    because he was abusive. He took drugs, but not very often. He went to
    a park and gave himself a large dose. The shock was too great. He
    staggered to the one place he felt would help him - the Wintercomfort
    hostel, by a neat coincidence. He dashed for the toilet. The staff
    heard moans and retching. The door was forced, but they were too late.
    He was dead.
    (c) Copyright Guardian Media Group plc. 2000

    Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
    Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
    The Cambridge Two

    From the Cambridge Evening News:

    Wednesday, June 14, 2000

    MINISTERS have rejected legislation which would have given charity workers extra protection against charges of allowing drugs in hostels. Cambridge Labour MP Anne Campbell tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill in the wake of the Cambridge Two case. Ruth Wyner, director of the Wintercomfort centre for the homeless in Cambridge, and John Brock, its manager, were jailed for five and four years respectively for allowing heroin to be supplied on the premises. They are appealing against their convictions and sentences.

    Mrs Campbell's new clause would have made it a defence if homelessness workers could prove they did not "wilfully permit" drug-taking on the premises. She called for the law to distinguish between charity workers who "knowingly" allowed drugs on their premises and those who "wilfully" let this happen. She told the Commons: "It is possible for workers to suspect that drug dealing is going on, but they may find it difficult to catch the perpetrators, and in that situation they would be knowingly permitting the offence.

    "Somebody would be wilfully permitting drug dealing if they deliberately turned a blind eye to it."

    She added: "Well-meaning workers who carry out their work conscientiously and diligently within the spirit of the law need an extra line of defence. I believe that reasonable steps were taken in the case of Wintercomfort when people who were suspected of drug-taking were excluded from the premises."

    She stressed that police surveillance operation revealed drugs were not pushed when staff were present. Mrs Campbell believes CCTV and mirrors would have been needed for the Wintercomfort staff to have avoided being prosecuted.

    Her defence of the Cambridge Two was backed by Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs. But Home Office Minister Paul Boateng rejected Mrs Campbell's arguments during the report stage of the bill.

    He said: "If reasonable steps are taken to deal with the problem and there is no action to condone, encourage or turn a blind eye, the offence is not committed." Mr Boateng said he believed the Cambridge Two were the first care agency staff to be prosecuted under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.

    He added: "The fact that only one prosecution has been brought shows there is not a widespread problem of care activity being inhibited by ill-founded prosecutions, accusations and convictions in this area."

    The Government is considering issuing new guidelines to charities on anti-drug measures, although it does not intend to change the law.

    Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
    Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
    The Cambridge Two

    Latest news from the campaign

    To mark 6 months of jail, the following events
    will take place in Cambridge. Please come 
    along, to be part of the crowd, and lend more
    help if you can.
    (1) Samba band playing at the guildhall in Cambridge
    	from 12.30pm on Saturday 17th June until about 1
    	or 1.30pm.
    (2) Vigil at the university church, same day, following
    	the Samba band. All afternoon.
    If you are able to help with these events (eg distributing 
    	leaflets) then please contact 513 033.
     Tue May 16 23:10:50 2000   To:
     From: "David J.C. MacKay" 
     Subject: [cam2] News from the Campaign
    (1) Ruth and John are going to have a "Leave to Appeal Hearing"
    	in London on 11th July at the Court of Appeal at 10.30.
    	The whole day has been scheduled for this hearing and
    	the prosecution barrister, Ruth, and John will all be 
    	present. We cannot predict what is going to happen.
    	The hearing will open by considering Appeal against Conviction.
    (2) The M.S.F. Union has announced that it is giving National backing to the
    	cambridge two campaign.
    (3) The current Big Issue has a double page article devoted to John.
    (4) Look East had a 30 minute programme about the Campaign at the weekend.
    	Did anyone see it? Alexander missed it and would appreciate the 
    	chance to see a video.

    Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
    Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001
    The Cambridge Two

    The campaign wishes to thank the following people and organizations for their help

    • Martyn Jones, Links T-shirts, Central Unit 1, Level 2, New England House, New England Street, Brighton, BN1 4GH.
    • Anglia Gifts and Promotions, 2 Fitzroy Street, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 0JW - who did the badges for us.
    • Roger Sewell, for getting a copy of the summing-up from Barnet and Lenton in Fetter Lane, London.

    Maintained by David J.C. MacKay
    Last modified Thu Nov 8 18:41:22 GMT 2001