The Strange Affair at Lindholme.

In 1994 Steel was in Lindholme prison - not far from Doncaster. Early that year he had a surprising letter - from his daughter Julia.

Julia was the child with whom Steel's wife Michelle had been pregnant at the time of the Carol Wilkinson murder. He had not seen her since she was a year old. She had not only not seen him since then, but she had had no idea that her father was in jail - and that there was a strong campaign to prove that he was innocent. She became very emotional about the situation - and with typical teenage innocence and blind faith in truth and justice, she expected that he would be out of jail in a matter of weeks.

Raising the expectations of a convict, as she now did, is highly dangerous. Men in prison get themselves into trouble if they are roused by such violent emotional tugs as Steel was now experiencing. Because of this, Peter Hill agreed to see him. He went into the jail on a normal visit with Steel's close friend Paul Wilkinson. The three of them discussed how to handle the matter of Julia, how she could be calmed down and persuaded not to be so emotional when she visited him.

Not long after this, Steel was accused of "flashing" a woman from the window of his cell. He was put into solitary for six weeks in a much tougher prison than Lindholme. He could no longer communicate with anyone. He was then sent to Boston Sea Camp - far too far away from Bradford for any of his friends to visit him. His ability to communicate with anyone was reduced to letters and phone calls - both of which could be monitored..

John Ryan, Steel's legal representative kept asking for the name of the woman who was making the accusation. Eventually he was told it was the wife of one of the warders at Lindholme.

Ryan persisted - what was her name? He was not told.

He went to the prison and talked to several people, including the prison chaplain. It was clear from this visit that Steel's cell had not view that would allow him to do the crime he was accused of - and at the time of the alleged "flashing" he was actually in the recreation hall with, among other, the chaplain.

Eventually Ryan was told that there were no charges against Steel for any crime whatsoever. There was never any explanation of the six weeks of solitary, nor of the move to Boston.

The further implications of stories such as this one were explored in an article for the Tom Sargant lecture in 1996. It concerns a case R. v Simms which eventually went to the House of Lords where the Law Lords came down on the side of the journalists involved.

( For a longer article on the Simms case, click here)