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How Bob Woffinden, Aggrandizing Investigative Journalist, Attempts To Perpetrate Innocence Fraud

Posted by The Machine



Said to be Bob Woffinden - as a pop music reporter, some years ago

Added in 2018. Bob Woffinden died on 1 May. He never reversed his false claims about Guede. His website was later taken down.

1. Woffinden and innocence fraud

These days innocence fraud is a very real thing.

A stern warning was issued to crime laboratory administrators that some post-conviction exonerations may have been secured by innocence activists using malicious tactics, or ‘innocence fraud’, creating potential public safety threats as convicted felons are released from prison.

In this post, I will analyse another example of innocence fraud, this time by British journalist Bob Woffinden on Meredith’s case. Woffinden has done this on other cases before.

He specialises in alleged miscarriages of justice, and has written articles for The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The New Statesman and authored a number a books about high-profile murder cases: Miscarriages of Justice; Hanratty: The Final Verdict and The Murder of Billy-Jo.

Woffinden’s default position when it comes to controversial murder cases seems to be to assume a miscarriage of justice, and to claim someone has been convicted of a crime they didn’t commit.

He’s claimed that James Hanratty, Jeremy Bamber, Barry George, Sion Jenkins and Jonathan King are all innocent. Reflexively anti-police, Woffinden as I described in the post linked to above on the James Hanratty case has a history of putting victims’ families through considerable pain.

2. Woffinden On Meredith’s case

Here he tries to prove that Rudy Guede is innocent of murder, and falsely claims he was convicted because he was black. He also tries to cast doubt on the hard fact that Meredith was sexually assaulted - or that the police got anything right.

Anyone who has read the official court documents and court testimonies with regard to the Meredith Kercher case will be able to assess Bob Woffinden’s professionalism and credibility and ethics as an investigative journalist article by reading his contorted take.

To those who really do know the case, it is immediately apparent that he’s pretty ignorant of the main facts, and that he hasn’t bothered to read the official court documents or the court testimonies available in English here.

He mindlessly repeats various endemic Friends of Amanda PR myths. For example, he erroneously claims the prosecutors concocted the scenario of a sex orgy gone wrong.

“The second mistake then ensued from the first. Needing to explain the presence of their three suspects in connection with the supposed sexual assault ““ and knowing there was absolutely no evidence to link Guede with Knox and Sollecito ““ they [the prosecutors] concocted the absurd scenario of a sex orgy gone wrong.”

Dr Mignini didn’t ever say anything about there being a sex orgy that went wrong when he presented his scenario to the court at the trial in 2009 and the numerous hearings (which Woffinden seems totally unaware of) in the 15 months before.

Instead he gave the court a detailed chronological account briefly summarized below of a vicious physical and sexual assault on Meredith, which culminated in her dying some time after the killers left and locked her in.

23:21: Amanda and Raffaele go into the bedroom while Rudy goes to the bathroom.

23:25: A scuffle begins between Amanda, helped by Raffaele, and Meredith. The English girl is taken by the neck, then banged against a cupboard, as shown by wounds to the skull. She resists all this. Rudy Guede enters.

23:30: Meredith falls to the floor. The three try to undress her to overcome her; they only manage to take off her trousers. The girl manages to get up, she struggles. At this point, the two knives emerge from the pockets of Amanda and Raffaele: one with a blade of four to five centimetres, the other, however, a big kitchen knife. Meredith tries to fend off the blades with her right hand. She is wounded.

23:35: The assault continues. Sollecito tries to rip off the English girl’s bra.

23:40: Meredith is on her knees, threatened by Amanda with the knife while Rudy holds her with one hand and with the other hand carries out an assault on her vagina. There is first a knife blow on her face, then straight away another. However, these blows are not effective. The three become more violent. With the smaller knife, Sollecito strikes a blow: the blade penetrates 4 centimetres into the neck.

There is a harrowing cry, which some witnesses will talk about. Amanda decides to silence her, still according to the video brought to court by the prosecutors, and strikes a blow to the throat with the kitchen knife: it will be the fatal wound. Meredith collapses on the floor.

23:45: Meredith is helped up by Rudy and is coughing up blood. The English girl, dying, is dragged along so that she can continue to be undressed.

Why is Woffinden unable to substantiate his claim that the prosecutors concocted the scenario of a sex orgy gone wrong with a verbatim quote from Mignini or Comodi?

Because they never claimed this at all. A competent and ethical professional journalist should be able to support every claim they make.

Woffinden regurgitates another popular PR myth by claiming that Rudy Guede pleaded guilty late in 2008.

“Even as he [Rudy Guede] pleaded guilty, he vehemently asserted his innocence, saying, “˜I can’t talk about things I haven’t seen and that didn’t happen to me’.”

Rudy Guede has never pleaded guilty or confessed to Meredith’s murder. He has always denied killing Meredith. He opted for a fast-track trial in mid 2008 because he could escape a blatant attempt to frame him as sole perpetrator by the Knox and Sollecito defense.

It meant he would automatically received a third off his prison sentence but at the time he had no idea what that would look like.

Bob Woffinden gets yet another fact wrong when he claims the Hellmann appeal court sanctioned a full review of the scientific evidence.

“...the Italian court sanctioned a full review of the scientific evidence on which they had been convicted.”

It did nothing of the kind. Hellmann merely asked Carla Vechiotti and Stefano Conti to review two pieces of DNA evidence - the knife and bra clasp evidence.

They didn’t review the bloody footprint on the bathmat, the bare bloody footprints which had been revealed by Luminol, or the five samples of Knox’s DNA or the blood mixed with Meredith’s blood in three different locations in the cottage.

Yet another wrong “fact”. Bob Woffinden claims that a police officer flushed away Rudy Guede’s faeces and thus destroyed evidence.

“His recollection that he had leapt up from the toilet seat the instant he heard the scream was bizarrely corroborated by the fact that there were faeces still in the pan when the police arrived. Needless to say, one officer activated the toilet, thereby flushing away important evidence.”

Needless to say? In fact this claim is complete and utter nonsense. The faeces in the toilet wasn’t flushed away. It was carefully collected as evidence and tested. However, it didn’t yield any results.

“The faeces present in the toilet of that bathroom did not, however, yield any results, and Dr Stefanoni, the biologist of the Scientific Police, explained that the presence of numerous bacteria easily destroys what DNA might be found in faeces.” (The Massei report, page 43).

Why would Woffinden make these and other demonstrably untrue claims? It seems obvious that he wants to portray the Italian National Scientific Police (much respected by the FBI) as the Keystone Cops, in order to ridicule the forensic investigation, seemingly his purpose here.

Woffinden makes yet another false claim by stating that Guede made only one inconsistent statement.

“Guede’s solitary inconsistency was this. He did comment at the outset of the investigation that “˜Amanda doesn’t have anything to do with it’. But, at that stage, perhaps he couldn’t believe that she did have.”

Judge Micheli, who found Rudy Guede guilty of sexual assault and murder in October 2008, pointed out in his sentencing report of January 2009 that Guede’s accounts were unreliable and varied a lot.

“Analyzing the narratives of the accused”¦he is not credible, as I will explain, because his version is (1) unreliable, and (2) continuously varying, whether on basic points or in minor details and outline.”

Bob Woffinden also seems to be pushing the wrong notion that Rudy Guede didn’t implicate Amanda Knox until much later - which is another FOA PR myth.

Guede first implicated Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito whilst on the run in Germany on 19 November 2007 in an intercepted Skype conversation with his friend Giacomo Benedetti:

Giacomo: “So they [Knox and Sollecito] killed her while she was dressed.”

Guede: “Yes, here it says that they [clothes] were washed in the washing machine, but that’s not true. She was dressed.”

Bob Woffinden makes the erroneous and offensive claim that there’s no evidence that Meredith was sexually assaulted,

“In their investigation, prosecutors made a series of blunders. The first serious mistake was their assumption that Meredith was sexually assaulted. If one takes cognisance of Guede’s account, there is no evidence of this. The second mistake then ensued from the first. Needing to explain the presence of their three suspects in connection with the supposed sexual assault ““ and knowing there was absolutely no evidence to link Guede with Knox and Sollecito ““ they concocted the absurd scenario of a sex orgy gone wrong.”

Had Bob Woffinden actually bothered to read the key Massei trial report, he would have known that several medical experts - Dr Lalli, Professor Marchionni, Professor Bacci and Professor Gianaristide Norelli - testified that there were indications of sexual violence on Meredith.

Such conclusions were further explained [by Dr Lalli] at the hearing of April 3, 2009, in which it was highlighted that signs were present of sexual activity with characteristics of non cooperation by the young woman, which can be derived from the lesion pattern at the vulvo vaginal level (page 40 of transcripts).

[111] These signs were present in the purple ecchymotic type spots detected on the inner surface of the labia minora, the area where they are usually produced. It is the first point of contact for the sex organ or object including fingers penetrating the vagina and therefore the point at which an action ... performed without the full cooperation of both actors would produce purplish spots of this kind. (The Massei report, page 116).

He [Professor Marchionni] noted in this regard that, even without lubrication injuries of this nature are not the result of consensual sexual intercourse, and he argued that the cause of these lesions had originated from a “forcing” that could have been done by the penis or by hands (page 21, hearing on April 4, 2009). (The Massei report, page 117.)

With regard to sexual violence, he [Professor Bacci] referred to the inspection of the genital area conducted by Dr. Lalli at the morgue operating room. On the internal surface of the labia minora, attention was focused on areas of discolouration, which can be interpreted as small bruises, small abrasions associated with small haemorrhages indicative of “small lesions” (page 16, transcripts) consistent with a violent action of friction, pressure an typical of sexual violence and, while affirming the absence glaring signs of typical sexual violence (page 16, transcripts) he concluded compatibility with non-consensual sexual intercourse’ (page 16, hearing, hearing on April 18, 2009). (The Massei report, page 121.)

He [Gianaristide Norelli] further underlined the presence of a slight bilateral suffusion in the area of the iliac spines, i.e. in the areas corresponding to the anterior lateral part of the flank, which represent the end/terminal parts of the wings of the [pelvic] basin and the fact that “lesions in this area are fairly characteristic of seizure [grasping] and immobilisation”; [it is] an area which is “˜highly suggestive’ in the context of the investigation of sexual assault. (The Massei report, page 124).

It should be stressed that the the doctor who actually performed the autopsy - Dr Lalli - believed Meredith had been sexually assaulted.

“The prosecution focused on Lalli’s statements that he believed there had been non-consensual sex.” (Andrea Vogt, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2 April 2009).

You need just an ounce of common sense to know that murder victims who were also raped or sexually assaulted didn’t consent. The Kerchers’ lawyer Dr Maresca made this very point:

“Sex that ends with someone dead is not consensual.”

Dr Maresca also highlighted the fact several medical experts said there were signs of sexual violence in court. Dr Maresca told the court that the expert witnesses

“sustained the prior results and valuations of the coroner who performed the autopsy and the forensic evidence specialists who already testified”. He added: “And for the first time today, we also heard that the bruises on the victim’s hips were consistent with a sexually violent approach.”

Unbelievably, Bob Woffinden regards Rudy Guede as a reliable and credible witness.

I’m surprised anyone would believe Guede’s ever-changing versions of events when they are so blatantly untrue. Guede gave two different accounts of arranging a date with Meredith and they’re both demonstrably false.

Meredith didn’t go to the Halloween party at the Spanish students’ house on 31 October 2007.

Guede then changed his story and claimed that he had met her at Domus, but Meredith was with her friends continuously and none of them saw her with him. None of Guede’s friends saw him with her either.

“He [Rudy Guede] stated that he met the girl on Oct. 31 in the house of some Spanish students and did not meet her later in the “Domus” pub, that the next day, shortly before going to the date with Meredith…

In the third interrogation, by the P.M. [public prosecutor] on March 26, 2008, he changed the place of his meeting with Kercher on Oct. 31 from the Spanish students’ house to the Domus pub” (Judge Giordano’s Supreme Court report, page 17).

“...and also because none of Meredith’s friends (Amy Frost, Robyn Butterworth and [10] Sophie Purton, with whom she had gone out on the evening of Halloween, Oct. 31, 2007) nor any of Guede’s friends (among others AC and PM) had ever seen them talk to each other.” (Judge Giordano’s sentencing report, page 10).

Meredith had NOT arranged a date with Guede at the cottage on Via della Pergola on 1 November 2007. She and Sophie Purton left their friends early that evening because they mistakenly believed they had lectures the next day.

“They [Meredith Kercher and Sophie Purton] were to meet on the morning of the second at around 10:00 am for a lecture at the university…:” (The Massei report, page 35).

“Meredith was tired from the day before when she had come home about five in the morning; the next day she supposed that she had a lesson at the University at 10 am and she needed to prepare for this and she had to also think about resting” (The Massei report, page 58).

Judge Massei explained at length in his report why Rudy Guede’s claims he had a date with Meredith were not credible.

“Speaking of Meredith, there has already been occasion to make mention of her personality (serious, not superficial, with a strong character), of her romantic situation [i.e. her love life] (she had not long beforehand begun a relationship with Giacomo Silenzi), of the plans she had for that evening (studying, preparing for the following day believing that there would be classes at the University, finishing a piece of homework, as her mother recalled during the hearing of 6 June 2009, and resting).

None of the people she frequented and in whom she confided (her relatives and her English girlfriends) testified that Meredith had made any mention to them at all of Rudy, for whom, therefore, she must not have felt any interest. With regard to the totality of these circumstances, it must be considered that Meredith could only have made an outright refusal to Rudy’s advances” (The Massei report, pages 365-366).

In rejecting Guede’s final appeal Judge Giordano succinctly summarised the reasons why he was found guilty of sexual assault and murder in his Supreme Court report. It had nothing to do with the colour of his skin.

“The judgement rationale thus proceeds through rigorous logical steps, quite consistently, with no possibility of misinterpreting evidence, distorting significant data, or disruption of the overall probative reasoning. Meredith Kercher, before being slaughtered with the deadly blow at her throat, was the victim of a series of wounds, of forced restraining of her limbs, especially the left hand and arm - and on the cuff of the left sleeve of the sweatshirt she wore clear traces of DNA of the defendant are found ““ aimed at overcoming her resistance to sexual violence, of which the traces of DNA of Guede of the vaginal swabs are evidence, which then led to the violent behaviour of the deadly slaughtering.

The version of the accused is totally unrealistic because, even apart from the obvious omissions and contradictions detectable in his many statements, his previous acquaintance of Meredith, shaped in his story by a meeting on the night before the murder at the Domus pub, by a kiss between the two and by a date for the evening of the following day, is clearly disproved by a whole articulated testimonial structure, [19] coming from several people and indicating that: the two did not meet at the Domus (indicated by the testimonies of all the friends who were accompanying Meredith), even less did they converse, even briefly, at the Shamrock pub during the match between England and South Africa broadcasted the day before (indicated by the testimonies of AC, PM and F), and Kercher never confided anything, as would have been natural, to her friends about a date with Guede, not even on the afternoon of Nov. 1, as she had done in other occasions about details of her personal and love life (indicated by the testimonies of Robin Carmel Butterworth, Sophie Purton).

This is consistent with the portrait of Meredith’s character; she avoided sexual relations with other men apart from Giacomo Silenzi with whom she had begun a relationship that she absolutely did not mean to betray, as stated by her friends, especially not for unimportant adventures.” (Judge Giordano’s Supreme Court report, pages 17-18).

Some conclusions

Bob Woffinden has made a name for himself by publicly championing the causes of convicted killers and sex offenders. Mainstream media organisations such as The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The New Statesman have given him a certain degree of credibilty and respectabilty by publishing his articles. Many people will trust him and assume that he’s a reliable and trustworthy journalist.

However, their trust is misplaced. His lack of due diligence with regard to his article about Rudy Guede and the Meredith Kercher case is disturbing and unacceptable. He doesn’t get the basics of journalism right - which is astonishing for someone who has worked as a journalist for decades. He gets basic facts wrong and he has made numerous demonstrably false claims.

A professional journalist should be able to substantiate every claim they make. Bob Woffinden is unable to do this because he has relied on some of the numerous factually inaccurate articles and the massive defense and PR spin about the case instead of the official court documents and court testimonies.

It defies belief that he accepts Rudy Guede’s fairy tale version of events. You don’t expect such childlike naivety from an adult let alone an investigative journalist. He’s obviously blissfully ignorant of the fact that Guede gave contradictory and confllcting accounts.

It seems he has a deep-rooted psychological need to believe in innocence and police malfeasance, which completely clouds his judgement to the point where he blindly supports and campaigns on behalf of people who are blatantly guilty of sexual assault and murder like James Hanratty and Rudy Guede.

If there’s a more sloppy and self-serving journalist in the world, I haven’t come across them yet.


CBS Report Sets New Record For Trashing Of Meredith, Xenophobia, Multi-Inaccuracies, Possible Libels

Posted by Peter Quennell



[above: the CBS producer Doug Longhini]

Those who really know the case well were widely appalled at this vicious and highly misleading piece of propaganda.

A number of complaints have been registered. In the next several days, we’ll be analyzing the CBS report and the reaction at length.

Meanwhile, for those who did not see the CBS report and would like to, try clicking on the image above. It should just open and play.

And if it does not work for you, please tell us, or download and play this zipped version.


CBS Reporter’s Bizarre Claims About Prosecutor And Reporters

Posted by Skeptical Bystander





Peter Van Sant of CBS is the slightly confused-looking reporter in the images above and below.

In promoting his “48 Hours” report tonight, which by all accounts seems intent on equaling CBS’s record for worst report on the case, Mr Van Sant has come out with an interview which is an absolute classic for how not to do such things.

First, consider Mr Van Sant’s remarks about one of the prosecutors in the case. 

As for the accusation that Kercher was killed over a sex game, Van Sant cites an Italian blogger for putting that notion into the prosecutor’s mind. Van Sant said the blogger claims that she speaks to a dead priest who tells her what happened at crime scenes.

The blogger told the main prosecutor in the Knox trial, Giuliano Minnini (sic), that this was a satanic sex game and that’s how the theory started, Van Sant said.

Sliming of a prosecutor in this fashion has already been strongly protested against by Amanda Knox’s own defense team.

And the prosecutor in question, one of two (real name: Mignini), many weeks ago made clear that he had NOT listened to the Rome blogger (had locked her up in fact), is NOT especially pushing any particular theory of motive for the crime, is NOT especially central to the continued momentum of the trial - and has actually started a lawsuit against PRECISELY this kind of libel!

Second, consider Mr Van Sant’s remarks about the reporting of the case.

Among the many (actually rather neutral and non-inflammatory) journalists on the case that Mr Van Sant seems intent on sliming is of course Andrea Vogt of the Seattle PI. He all but refers to her by name and it seems rather obvious who he had in mind.

Ms Vogt is the reporter from the Pacific Northwest who is based in Bologna, Italy and who has been covering this case for the Seattle PI for over a year. Many observers have been impressed with her thorough, objective and factual reporting, particularly since the trial phase began.

Anyone who has been following the case knows how non-objective and pro-defense much of the reporting has been in the US, and how much fluffy air time has actually been arranged by the family-hired PR firm Marriott and company.

So the particular focus of Mr Van Sant’s criticism is really surprising. After claiming that Italy has the most irresponsible tabloid press on the planet and that local Seattle papers like the Times and the PI can’t afford to send reporters to Italy to cover the story, he explained that they hire “stringers”. Apparently these stringers simply translate articles from the Italian tabloids into English and, via the local newspaper circuit which publishes them, they get recycled and become legitimate news.

Mr Van Sant actually uses the terms “filtered” or “laundered”, as if he were talking about Mafia money being invested in life insurance policies.

The Seattle PI has enough problems without having to deal with this irresponsible and possibly defamatory remark. And Andrea Vogt, who to our knowledge is the only “stringer” working on this case who is filing stories for the PI, has been providing some of the best coverage of this case to US readers.

There are many good reasons for this: Ms Vogt is fluent in Italian and lives in Italy for much of the year; and she is a talented writer and an intelligent reporter. But most important, she has been making the trek from Bologna to Perugia and back, and spending Fridays and Saturdays in the courtroom for hours on end.

She recently wrote a piece on the mood in Seattle for Panorama, an Italian publication. For that article, she interviewed people in Seattle—including friends of Amanda Knox.

I would imagine that as soon as each daylong court session ends, she sits down - like the other serious reporters covering this case - and tries to turn out a fair and accurate report of the day’s event under very tight deadlines. Her reporting for the PI has been excellent and fair.

It is not only unfair, it is also dishonest to imply that Andrea Vogt is translating Italian tabloids and trying to pass it off as original reporting. If this interview with Mr Van Sant is any indication, then CBS viewers tonight may be in for an evening of fiction.

In which case, I think I’ll watch “The Greatest Story Ever Told” or “The Sound of Music” instead. Closer to reality than is CBS….



Rumors In Manhattan About Ludicrously Bad CBS Report

Posted by Peter Quennell

[click for larger image]

Click above for the CBS promo for a “48 Hours” report this Saturday night.

Early in the case CBS seriously shot itself in the foot. Now Manhattan lawyers and media people who are following the case are really amused that CBS seems to be about to do it again.

And CBS is said to be very, very nervous at putting itself out on such a limb. The best report by a US network so far would have to be that put together by NBC. And the worst report by a US network so far would have to be that put together by CBS.

The previous CBS report was confused on many of the basic facts of the case. And CBS tried to trash a key witness who gave some very convincing testimony a few weeks ago.

The apparent mainstays of this new report? The old chestnuts again. Prosecutor Mignini is REALLY evil!  And Amanda Knox was somehow coerced into fingering Lumumba - and that in the course of a 14-hour interrrogation.

Talk about time-warp.

Not only have the claimed hitting of Knox and the endless interrogation already been discredited at trial by a number of witnesses. But the “evil” prosecutor has initiated an investigation into whether she committed slander against the interrogators.

More after the CBS broadcast. This should be most interesting.