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The Sterling Redemption (Hardback)

Twenty Five Years To Clear My Name

Military > Biographies > Military Biographies

By James Edmiston, Lawrence Kormornick
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 180
ISBN: 9781781590270
Published: 15th October 2012



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The untold true story of James Edmiston who suffered an extraordinary miscarriage of justice in 1983 when senior officials blocked vital witnesses coming to his trial which led to a personal tragedy; a broken marriage, and the loss of a business.

The Sterling Redemption explains how he was wrongly charged with alleged illegal exports to Iraq, and then took on the establishment against seemingly impossible odds for 25 years, to establish his innocence and to win record compensation from the British government in a truly remarkable case. Divorced and bankrupted, he is now rebuilding a shattered life, nearly 30 years later.

In 1993, the Scott Inquiry unearthed serious misconduct by senior officials who colluded to block vital defence witnesses from coming to trial - behaviour described by Lord Justice Scott as “disgraceful” and “reprehensible”. Nevertheless, the officials concerned have escaped prosecution and some were even promoted. But by 1993, it was too late for Edmiston. He had suffered the enforced sale of his successful business, the Sterling Armament Company, the loss of 150 jobs and his town house on the Phillimore Estate Kensington; financial ruin; and divorce in 1990. He believes that there may have been an ulterior motive for the prosecution and he was a pawn in a high-stakes political game.

Determined that the government should acknowledge his innocence and to compensate him and apologise, the case was thought to be impossible. After a successful judicial review against the Home Secretary, the government finally awarded him record compensation in 2008 but without an apology.

The Arms to Iraq affair has come to stand for many things: lies by government ministers to protect the state; the sacrifice of innocent men facing prison who had been working for MI6; misuse of Public Interest Immunity Certificates (so-called “gagging orders”) to hide government policy on Iraq; diplomatic hypocrisy; and the downfall of the Conservative government in 1997. How did this happen in Britain and could it ever happen again?

This extraordinary story is a fascinating insight into government and the abuse of power and is based on many original sources including the Scott Report and Judgment of the Court of Appeal (criminal). The co-author, Lawrence Kormornick, is a Solicitor-Advocate (civil) who has represented Edmiston and several other victims of the Arms-to-Iraq prosecution scandal against the government and has a unique insight into these cases.

Packed with ironies, twists of fate and many unanswered questions it is a compelling read for anyone interested in political intrigue and abuse of power, miscarriage of justice and learning about how an individual took on the state and won.

As seen in the Law Society Gazette.

The Law Society Gazette

The politics of the early 90's were dominated, occassionally explosively, by a judicial inquiry into Britain's role in arming Iraq, during the Iran Iraq war 1979 - 1988. The review was conducted by Sir Richard Scott, now Lord Scott, a Judge and law lord. During the inquiry Sir Richard came across a situation in which a legal arms manufacturer, James Edmiston, owner of the Sterling Arms company, was wrongly and falsely charged with exporting his sub machine guns to Iraq, via Jordan. James Edmiston was cleared in court but not before he'd lost his business, his family and his home. He was cleared without knowing that a group of civil servants had 'nobbled' potential witnesses , by convincing various embassies to prevent their diplomats from giving evidence on James Edmiston's behalf. One of the most rivating parts of this book are the passasges in which Sir Richard and his deputy, the QC Preisley Baxendale, wring admissions from the civil servants involved that they had perverted the course of justice during the trial, and that they had charged James Edmiston, in the almost certain knowledge that they were bringing false charges in the first place. As the book points out, no civil servant was ever charged with the crimes they had committeed. Neither did even Sir Richard find out why they had done it. The case formed a pattern, with a whole string of false arrests, false charges, and wrongful convictions, relating to the arming of Iraq (and Iran) by UK 'interests'. Those 'interests' who Swiss Military Intelligence privately claimed had cleared 7bn pounds in war profits, appeared able to arrange false prosecutions throughout the British legal system. None of these people were ever apprehended or named, and the Scott Inquiry failed, totally, to establish the international mechanism through which the UK armed both sides in the war, as it did. The British judiciary appeared unable to deal with power in its own country. But one of the heroes of the book, even if his role is a little downplayed, is Lawrence Kormornick, the lawyer who finally got James Edmiston his miscarriage of justice compensation, the largest such payement ever made, after 25 years. What made the payment unique was that James Edmiston had not been convicted or jailed. He was luckier than others, who suffered jail and worse, but for almost all of whom Lawrence Koremornick got compensation. It remaisn a pity that British investigative journalism failed, as totally as Sir Richard failed, to unmask the secret arms network that managed the supply chain. Perhaps a real investigative film, based on the Sterling Redemption is what is now needed, unless you believe, as do many, that John Le Carre planted all the clues needed in his book 'The Night Manager'

Kevin Cahill

Wow! What a story! I'm aware of most of the Arms to Iraq Miscarriages of Justice from this period of recent British history. However, James Edmiston's experience must be the most glaring and appalling of all. The authors have written a fascinating account of it all but will Whitehall learn from this episode and start to conduct itself with any more honour and integrity? No, I don't think so either!

Paul Grecian

In modern government great injustice should not happen. When it does compensation should be fast, open and generous. This book is an account of how unreasonable, mean-spirited and dishonest modern British governments, of all types, can be. Your life can be ruined but nobody will help unless you force them. This book shows justice, though coming late, can be achieved against immoral and unjust governments. An excellent read


I found this book to be an excellent read which I could not put down. A testament to fortitude under extreme circumstances and the efforts of one of the UK''s leading lawyers.

Jeremy Jensen

Why it's so important that this book was written is because memories are short...it's only by writing these things down and by doing what James has done makes it less likely that others will suffer in the way that he has...

Geoffrey Robertson QC

I read your book -- cover to cover -- on the flight from Sydney to Plett. James, although I had some idea of what had had happened to you, I had no conception of its life wrecking gravity and timespan. Those officials really have something to answer for, but of course this wouldn't help you, for no retribution can recover those lost years. There's also no use saying that your experience has strengthened you and made you into a wiser and better person...What happened to you was horrible; period. But what I can say is that you have come through with your outgoing, optimistic temperament intact. You are so obviously a happy chap despite your dreadful experience. For this I respect you deeply..

Murray Crawford

I read it with what I can best describe as an appalled interest, and I salute you for your resilience in keeping going through such a protracted period of anxiety and financial and other difficulty. No doubt the financial compensation allows you to live in comfort again, but it can't obliterate what went before...

Chris Sledge

'The Sterling Redemption' is not a crime thriller but a true story of alleged skulduggery and, possibly, criminal acts in the form of perverting the course of justice by the authorities and it should be bedside reading for everybody who believes in the rule of law. True, James has received compensation. But how do you compensate a person for the destruction of his career, the loss of his home and marriage? It is a truly shocking story, and the troubling part is that it is likely to be repeated unless the Scott Inquiry is taken off the shelf, and some of its lessons learned.'The Sterling Redemption' is written in narrative style by Edmiston, and Lawrence Kormornick, who acted for him; it is an easy read and not long. It has been written in succession to 'The Sterling Years: Small Arms and the Men', telling the story described above, James’ account of the seizure, his trial, the Scott Inquiry and his fight for compensation.
But to lawyers it is the underlying story of miscarriage of justice exposed that will be both fascinating and outrageous.

The Law Society Gazette

James had many ups and downs, which he recounts in rattling good style, taking us through to his eventual compensation in 2008 for what the government abusing its own processes had cost him.

Shooters Rights

Many thanks for the book. It does have a happy ending but what a condemnation of officials…

Tim, 24 October 2012

I very much enjoyed the launch…I had no idea what you had been through. Having read the book, I now do. I hope your book receives the wider audience it deserves…

John W, 23 October 2012

A succinct and witty memoir of a nightmare…

Steve, 23 October 2012

It’s a remarkable read…I’m amazed at your resilience and fortitude.

Richard B, 23 October 2012

Great read which kept me up at night…already bought a copy for a friend. Really, really well done!

Richard F, 23 October 2012

My grandfather fought in WWII and carried his Sterling everywhere; it never let him down. I have no doubt it saved his life more than once…”

Craig, 23 October 2012

I very much enjoyed this eye-opening book…it’s heart-warming to know you beat the buggers!

David, 23 October 2012

A searing expose of one of the most shameful and cynical prosecutions of modern times.

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About James Edmiston

Edinburgh-born James Edmiston, whose interests feature rugby and music, owned the Sterling Armament Company from 1972 until 1983, when steady sub-machine gun production was complimented by new product research and development and plant investment. His modest Oxford law degree assisted during constant harassment by a state apparently hell-bent in destroying any competition from private industry. He is intensely proud of the achievements of the Sterling team.

About Lawrence Kormornick

Is a solicitor-advocate (civil) and mediator who has represented many victims of miscarriage of justice.

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