Killer who bludgeoned Hampstead millionaire loses human rights fight over secret trial
- Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima
A Chinese dissident who murdered a reclusive millionaire author in Hampstead has suffered a major setback in his quest to challenge his conviction on human rights grounds.
Wang Yam is seeking to argue before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) that his trial was unfair because “very significant parts” were held in secret.
The financial adviser, now in his 50s, was found guilty in 2009 of murdering Allan Chappelow to steal his identity and plunder his accounts.
Award-winning writer and photographer Mr Chappelow, 86, was found bludgeoned to death under a pile of manuscripts in May 2006 at his £4.1million mansion in Downshire Hill.
It was the first murder trial to have evidence heard “in camera” – without the press or public present – for reasons of national security.
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Yam, reportedly the grandson of Chairman Mao’s third-in-command, had been granted refugee status in Britain in 1992 after being a student leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
He claims the trial’s secrecy infringed his right to a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights.
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But two High Court judges have now upheld a court order banning him from making any reference to large parts of the case – which he claims are “key aspects” of his defence – in any ECtHR proceedings.
The order was made at the Old Bailey in 2008 and then modified in February this year to cover the Strasbourg court.
Lord Justice Elias and Mr Justice Hickinbottom heard submissions on Yam’s behalf that the variation of the order was “unlawful” and should be quashed.
In a ruling last week, the two judges dismissed Yam’s judicial review action. Lord Justice Elias said: “It must be open to the court in an appropriate case to conclude that the public interest, such as ensuring national security and possibly the right to life itself, will be so undermined by making confidential material available to third parties, that the court can order that there should be no communication of such material.”
Yam, who lived in Denning Road, Hampstead, is serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 20 years. He has always denied the murder, blaming gangsters.