Discover more from The Mill
The New York Times raises questions about a Manchester murder case
Plus: A huge reaction to our latest weekend read
Dear Millers — we have 180 new Millers reading today’s briefing, all of whom joined after reading our story this weekend about the founder of Manchester Confidential (Bad reviews: Has Manchester’s restaurant scene had enough of Mark Garner?). Welcome to all of you, and thanks also to our dozen new members, who have taken us past 1,600 paying subs, just weeks after we passed 1,500.
The Garner story has become one of our most-read pieces ever and sparked a massive response on Twitter and Instagram. Some readers tweeted at Manchester Confidential’s advertising partners, asking them if they were cutting ties. There were also many messages of support for Eunji Noh, who spoke on the record in the piece, and her restaurant The Thirsty Korean. We do hope Millers are looking to book a table for the next time they’re in Chorlton.
Our story was the top item on Manchester’s Reddit page on Saturday. “Manchester should be much better than this,” wrote one commenter, who added that they were “probably more disappointed in Jonathan Schofield being such a big part of the organisation”. Schofield is a popular Manchester writer and tour guide who has written regularly for Manchester Confidential for a while. The Mill has been told by one former staff member that after the recent staff departures from Garner’s company, it is Schofield who has been drafted in to run the editorial team. Schofield hasn’t replied to the message we sent yesterday asking about that, but Manchester Confidential has announced he is writing a new column for the site.
Now, onwards with today’s briefing, which looks at: a New York Times investigation that places some of Manchester’s most controversial criminal trials under scrutiny; Trafford’s dreadful NHS waiting list; and what’s most worth doing in the city this week. Enjoy.
This week’s weather
Our forecast is from local weatherman Martin Miles, who says: “much cooler this week with wet and windy weather at the forefront. “
Tuesday🌧 Much cooler with heavy rain during the daytime. Turning drier after dark with clear spells overnight. Max 11°c.
Wednesday🌦 Dry during the morning but turning wet later in the afternoon. Wet and windy overnight. Max 11°c.
Thursday🌦 A breezy day with showery conditions. Feeling chilly. Max 10°c.
Friday⛅️ Mostly dry with hazy sunshine coming through after a misty start. Widespread frost overnight. Max 9°c.
Weekend: Seasonably chilly with showery weather. Overnight frosts are likely.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook — daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
The big story: Manchester’s joint enterprise cases come under new scrutiny
Top line: A New York Times investigation has highlighted major issues with the use of “joint enterprise” laws, focusing on a case in Manchester. Nationally, the paper found that black defendants were three times as likely to be prosecuted under these controversial laws compared to white defendants.
Context: Joint enterprise (JE) laws are a set of principles that allow prosecutors to charge multiple people with a single crime, even if they took no direct part in the final criminal act. They have become infamous in recent years due to their use in trials against groups of young black men, who are often defined as gangs based on dubious evidence like song lyrics and social media posts.
Focus: The NYT piece centres around the case of Rhamero West, a 16-year-old who died after being stabbed in the leg in Old Trafford last September. One of the four men found guilty of West’s murder was Giovanni Lawrence, who was sentenced to 21 years in prison despite not being at the murder scene and never touching the knife. He had no identifiable motive, no history of violence and no one witnessed him at the scene.
Lawrence was part of a car chase that precipitated West’s murder. After a crash, West was chased by Ryan Cashin, who stabbed and killed him. According to cellular data, Lawrence remained in the car. “While the fatal blows were inflicted by Cashin, the other three were clearly part of the continuing attack,” said the prosecutor of the case against Lawrence.
Often, prosecutors evoke a “gang narrative” to strengthen their arguments and sway a jury, and this trope is sometimes sustained by the local media. Harry Stopes, a journalist and historian who has written about JE convictions in Manchester, said on Twitter:
It’s valuable that [the] investigation centres around Manchester. Manchester Evening News is worse than useless when it comes to youth violence in the city, doing little more than attending 1st day of court, printing pros. opening statement, and coming back for conviction day.
2016 case: Communities in areas like Moss Side have felt the brunt of JE convictions. In 2016, 11 teenagers from the area were jailed for the murder of Abdul Hafidah, despite only one delivering the blow that killed him.
Racial disparity: Young black people made up 89 percent of names on the Manchester gangs database, according to researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University.
In July, we looked at whether the Manchester Evening News had questions to answer over its coverage of a trial that resulted in the imprisonment of ten young black men on charges of conspiracy to murder. Some weren’t involved in any violence, and only sent messages to a group chat that was later alleged to be where violent acts were planned.
While joint enterprise laws weren’t used to achieve the convictions in that case, many drew comparisons in how gang narratives were used to convince jurors, and lamented how quick the MEN were to label the group as a gang in their court reports.
Unexpected increase: Since 2016, when a landmark Supreme Court ruling was handed down which was expected to reduce the number of people convicted under JE laws, the opposite has happened: they have risen almost 50%. But due to the notoriety that has been attached to JE, prosecutors stopped referring to it as such in public documents. Instead, they refer to it as “secondary liability” to help avoid controversy. “And,” writes the NYT’s Jane Bradley, “it worked.”
Sharing the NYT story this weekend, Stopes tweeted: “Obviously there is a vaaast gulf in resources between NYT and locals like @ManchesterMill, but I hope the latter will follow up with the subject with stories from the ground like only a local can do.” We will do our best. Lawyers and campaigners, please get in touch — just hit reply to this email. And to give us more resources for these kinds of stories, just join up as a member now — or even buy someone a gift subscription.
Home of the week
This two-bedroom apartment (well, a flat somewhere inside the grand building you are looking at) in West Didsbury has vaulted ceilings, a private roof terrace and views over the Peak District. It’s on the market for £325,000.
Your Mill briefing
Refugees in an asylum hotel in Stockport are suffering "inhumane treatment" according to the council and human rights charity RAPAR. There have also been reports of a scabies outbreak, something which Serco, the firm hired to operate the hotel, deny. Stockport Council leader Mark Hunter told the BBC: "Asylum seekers have been cooped up… for months and this inhumane treatment acts as a Petri dish for mental health issues in a cohort that are already vulnerable." Back in July, we reported on a Serco-operated hotel in Didsbury, whose residents told us they were being served inadequate food — with some trying to cook in their rooms. We were also told the hotel's staff were uncooperative, allegedly advising residents against making official complaints as it would affect their asylum claims.
Is the opera coming to Manchester? The debate about the future of the English National Opera (ENO) rumbles on, with lots more one-sided stories in the national press full of London-based voices dismissing the idea out of hand. “The London arts world has reacted in such a pearl-clutching and frankly slightly condescending way to this announcement,” Joshi told The Telegraph last week, continuing our lonely campaign to get the ENO to this city. Local leaders seem to have been blindsided by the Arts Council’s funding announcement, but what are they now doing to make the move happen? Manchester City Council hasn’t been able to tell us since we asked on Friday, but the message was slightly more positive from Andy Burnham’s combined authority, who said: “We have had initial conversations with Arts Council England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.”
It’s becoming harder and harder to rent in Manchester. “There used to be two or three people inquiring about a property, but now there's 15 to 20 people after the same house,” one estate agent told Channel 4 News, who also spoke to a student having to commute three hours from Liverpool to Manchester because of unaffordable rent. The majority of prospective tenants are now having to offer 6-12 months’ rent in advance, and in some cases are being asked by landlords to submit “essays” about themselves and what they would be like as tenants. It comes as the number of available properties has plummeted since before the pandemic, and average monthly rent has increased by £300.
Trafford has the longest NHS waiting list in the UK, according to the New Statesmen's new tool tracking waiting lists by postcode. The maximum waiting time for non-urgent treatments is 18 weeks. The NHS's own targets say no more than 8% of total patients should wait longer than that. In Trafford, 57% of patients are missing that target, waiting over four and a half months for treatment.
A Lancashire Police officer has been charged with attempted murder after a woman was found injured at a hotel on Brooks Street, in the city centre. James Riley, 27, has been remanded and will appear at Manchester Magistrates court on Monday. The woman has been taken to hospital and is in a stable condition.
Tom Kerridge, the Michelin-star celebrity chef, is closing his luxury restaurant The Bull and Bear, which opened in the Stock Exchange Hotel in 2019. In a statement with Gary Neville, the owner of the hotel, they said the closure was a joint decision, based on how the two businesses were on different trajectories. They stressed there has been "no falling out."
What did your street look like in 1894? We’ve been scouring this brilliant old map —reproductions of which are being sold by one of our longtime members on Etsy — and our tweet above got some eclectic discussions going about cattle stations and war time evacuations. Spot something interesting? Join in the conversation.
Our favourite reads
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner talks about growing up in Stockport, her relationship with Sir Keir Starmer and how her first trip to the Opera was received by the press. “She calls herself an ‘eternal optimist’ and believes adversity has made her stronger, but admits: ‘I survived it and came out better, but part of me wonders, when do I dip? When do I lose?’”
Darren Henley, the chief executive of Arts Council England, writes about the decision to decline funding to English National Opera, and why the future of opera may lie outside of the capital: “A new generation of audiences is embracing opera and music theatre presented in new ways: opera in car parks, opera in pubs, opera on your tablet. New ideas may seem heretic to traditionalists, but fresh thinking helps the art form reimagine itself and remain exciting and meaningful to future generations of audiences and artists.”
A troubling story from our friends on The Post in Liverpool: When a trainee journalist was found to be highly critical of the Liverpool Echo on Twitter, the newspaper allegedly threatened to discontinue their partnership with her community college unless she was ejected from the course. The story alleges an extraordinary abuse of power by the Echo, which has been denied by its editor Maria Breslin. The student, Helen Wilkie, has a recording of her meeting with the college.
This weekend our sister newspaper The Tribune published a great story about a feminist film co-operative in 1980s Sheffield, and we thought Mill readers would enjoy it too. We hear in particular from Jenny Woodley, a local organiser who recently bumped into a woman she had worked alongside in the co-operative decades earlier. “We still immediately had that connection… the women who were in that original consciousness raising group told each other things we hadn’t even told our partners.”
Our to do list
🎨 Daniel Silver and Nina Chua, two abstract artists, just launched a varied and expressive exhibition at Castlefield Gallery. Look out for Friend by Daniel Silver, a lifesize human-like figurative sculpture in shades of blue and green. More here.
🍜 There’s been an outpouring of support for Thirsty Korean in Chorlton since our story about Eunji Noh and the founder of Manchester Confidential, Mark Garner. The next time you’re in Chorlton, give them a visit: they’re open from Tuesday until Saturday. More here.
✨ Expect beautiful light projections, trees bathed in colourful light and fountain displays at RHS Bridgewater, who are kicking off their festive season with a light festival each week until Christmas. Book here.
📚 Nothing About Us Without Us celebrates the history of disabled people’s activism, bringing together protest material and stories dating back to the 19th century. The exhibition is created by four curators at the People’s History Museum who identify as disabled. More here.
🍷 Flawd, the natural wine bar in New Islington, opens new bottles of Beaujolais, alongside old vintages from this region, on the third Thursday of every month. More here.
📸 Emerge, a new exhibition from the Manchester photographer Carolina Sepúlveda, who shoots nudes on black and white film and polaroid, launches at Village Books in the Northern Quarter this evening. More here.
For our glitteringly well-informed weekend to do list — which we send out every Thursday — hit the button below to join us as a member.