Julie Ward murder 'imminently solvable'

A FATHER who has spent 20 years hunting his daughter's killer believes the case is now “imminently solvable”.

A FATHER who has spent 20 years hunting his daughter's killer believes the case is now “imminently solvable”.

John Ward, who has battled with both Kenyan and British authorities in his search to find his 28-year-old daughter's murderer, believes fresh DNA techniques and a renewed police inquiry could yield results.

Julie Ward was brutally murdered while on a safari trip to the Masai Mara game reserve in 1988.

Her 74-year-old father from Bury St Edmunds said yesterday he was confident justice would be done.

His renewed hope follows the disclosure of a damning independent police report into the Kenyan and British investigations.

The retired Bury hotelier used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the critical report, written by Jon Stoddart on behalf of Lincolnshire Police in 2004.

Most Read

The report said of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British High Commission: "There is clear evidence of inconsistency and contradictions, falsehoods and downright lies, and it is this that has, not surprisingly, led to John Ward believing that there was an active conspiracy to prevent him from identifying his daughter's killers.'

Speaking to the EADT Mr Ward, said he was “not surprised” by the findings but he added he had faith in Assistant Commissioner John Yates - who is set to fly to Kenya in six weeks.

“The report came as no surprise,” he said. “It is confirmation of what I already thought. All of this would have been solved years ago without the obstruction - it has been a slow process.

“The next steps will be for Assistant Commissioner Yates to go out there and that will be happening in six weeks if not sooner. Much depends on Mr Yates - his reputation goes before him.

“It is appalling it has taken so long - it was unnecessary and it never should have been obstructed but we now have some progress.”

Mr Ward has travelled to Kenya more than 100 times and spent almost £2 million trying to find his daughter's killers.

Recent advertisements in Kenya's two leading newspapers offering a £78,500 reward for formation leading to the arrest of his daughter's murderer have yielded 54 replies, with “a couple” of interesting leads.

Mr Ward added: “I believe that originally the Foreign Office was falling over backwards in order to appease President (Daniel arap) Moi.

“What they did in the past was wrong. I believe it amounted to an attempt to pervert the cause of justice.

“But when the damning Stoddart inquiry came out in 2004 the first thing they did was try to prevent the findings from being made public.

“The Stoddart report said this crime is imminently solvable and I believe it is.”

The report accused the Kenyan police, who initially insisted Miss Ward committed suicide or was killed by wild animals, of "brazen, deceitful and dishonest behaviour”.

And it was also highly critical of two Scotland Yard officers whose initial inquiry led to two park rangers standing trial for murder.

The accused were acquitted in a Nairobi trial in 1992.

In his report, Mr Stoddart, now Chief Constable of Durham Police, said the two officers had "undertaken what is at best a poor investigation, at worst hopelessly flawed”.

Mr Ward and the Kenyan police launched a second inquiry in 1996, which led to the Masai Mara's chief game warden, Simon Makallah, being charged with the murder. But he too was acquitted in a Nairobi trial the following year.

The Scotland Yard officers who made the initial investigation were criticised in the report for using Makallah as their principal liaison officer after failing to test his own alibi.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said: "We deeply regret that nobody has been brought to justice. We strongly refute allegations of a cover-up.

"While we absolutely refute any allegations of collusion with the Kenyan government and/or the Metropolitan Police Service, we could and should have handled this case better and have learned from the mistakes that were made 20 years ago.

"The FCO disassociates itself from a section of the Lincolnshire Police report as it contains many inferences and statements which are unfair and unfounded.”

Asked about the Stoddart inquiry, a spokesman for Scotland Yard said: "The outcome of that investigation was that they found no criminal conspiracy involving the Metropolitan Police. The Met is still engaged in investigating Julie Ward's murder and we are working closely with her father to seek justice.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter