They Insisted They Were Framed. Now, Vindication

Derek Ridgewell, deemed 'Britain's most corrupt cop,' is at center of cases of wrongly convicted men in UK
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2024 4:00 AM CST
They Insisted They Were Framed. Now, Vindication
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/cupcakegill)

Nearly a dozen convictions in the UK have been overturned over the past few years, with one common denominator: They were all tied to arrests made by police officer Derek Ridgewell, dubbed "Britain's most corrupt cop" by Simon Hattenstone in the Guardian. The article centers on the convictions of Saliah Mehmet and Basil Peterkin, and of others—mostly men of color—after Ridgewell effectively framed them, all while committing his own crimes behind the scenes. Mehmet and Peterkin—now both deceased, and who each spent nine months in jail after convictions for conspiracy to steal from the Bricklayers Arms depot in London—were finally vindicated last month, after Stephen Simmons, another man who'd been arrested by Ridgewell and convicted of stealing, was told on a call-in legal radio show in 2013 that he might want to look up the arresting officer online.

That's when Simmons found out Ridgewell himself had been arrested for stealing, which jump-started a deeper probe. Mehmet's family says he was never the same after his arrest and imprisonment, becoming introverted and suspicious. As for his family receiving a 2022 letter from the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which ultimately led to Mehmet's conviction being overturned, son Arda Mehmet says, "If my dad was alive, I don't think he would have allowed us to go through with it." Five other men found guilty alongside Mehmet and Peterkin still haven't seen their convictions quashed. Ridgewell, meanwhile, died behind bars of an apparent heart attack in 1982, at 37; whispers continue that he was assassinated because he knew too much about rampant corruption in the police department. As for what he reportedly told a prison warden when asked why he became a criminal: "I just went bent." The full piece, which goes in depth about the racial implications of Ridgewell's arrests, here. (More police officers stories.)

Stories to sink your teeth into.
Get our roundup of longform stories every Saturday.
Sign up
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.