The life of a ghost-writer is never a dull one. Earlier this year I visited a prison in Hull to meet with convicted murderer Kevin Lane, who has served 19 years of a life sentence. He wanted me to help him with his book.
It was quite humbling experience visiting a prison for the first time, to sit in front of a man who has had his liberty taken from him for a crime he claims he didn't commit. There's a little bitterness there, of course there is and yet Lane is the first one to admit that his conviction is a result of one or two bad apples and not the system in general. There is good and bad in every walk of life, he says, and that includes the police.
Even at the exact point he walked towards my table in the visiting section of the prison I sincerely wanted to doubt him and I was fully prepared to question him about his claims. Deep down I wanted to believe in the great British system and especially in the rank and file policemen who handled this particular case. I know injustices happen but I honestly believed that when they did, they were more as a result of error and accident, Lane claims he was convicted on lies and deliberate falsification of evidence. I researched and viewed everything I could find on the murder he was accused of, I trawled newspapers archives and television footage and I went through his notes and paperwork with a fine toothed comb. During my research I became increasingly concerned about the legitimacy of this man's conviction and I began to wonder how on earth he has not been able to at least get his case to the Court of Appeal in nearly two decades.
Kevin Lane is a hard man of that there's no doubt, an accomplished middleweight boxer in his youth and by his own admission a bit of a fighter and certainly no angel. But he's also a polite man with morals and a healthy slice of humour and I warmed to him. I couldn't quite get my head around what it must be like to spend 19 years in the UK prison system, sincerely believing every day of that sentence that you shouldn't be in there. Kevin Lane has been dubbed 'The Executioner' despite never having been accused, charged or convicted of any other murder and he invites the reader to make a judgement based on the evidence contained within the book which is published on Kindle this month, the paper version early next year. It's called Fitted up but Fighting Back. Rather an apt title.
Kevin worked on his book harder than any subject I've ever worked with and took on board everything I said. This is without doubt his book and not Ken Scott's. During further visits I admit to being quite touched at the scenes unfolding around me as small children, wives, mothers and girlfriends made their way into the visiting suite, some devoid of any hope. At times I was in awe of a man who despite being locked up for so long still seemed to have a good word or two about most individuals.
I did not take this particular job to judge Kevin Lane, I took it because it interests me and I wanted to help one man get his words over to the reader as best he could. He speaks honestly, emotionally and passionately and hopefully that comes across in the chapters of his book. He has meticulously researched and double checked every paragraph, each page and when I questioned the sometimes overlong phrases of legal speak he simply explained he has been studying law for nineteen years now and accepts there's a little bit of the lawyer in him. He has been studying it from a cell 40+ hours every week. That's an awful lot of study.
This story has the makings of a case John Grisham would be more than happy to turn into his next best seller but unfortunately for the world's greatest fiction writer this story is based purely on fact. Kevin Lane has lived in hope for 19 years; hope that the truth will eventually become transparently clear. He wants to be set free, of course he does but he wants to be set free with the knowledge that the authorities and the world recognises his non participation in a brutal cold blooded murder.
I dubbed Kevin Lane the UK's Mr Shawshank, after one of the most powerful movies of all time and I am already halfway through the screenplay of his story which I know will make a sensational film.
Kevin always tells me that the pen is mightier than the sword and he sincerely believes that. He wants to come home, see his book on the bookshelves of WH Smiths and Waterstones and attend the premier to his movie. He feels he needs to tell the world of his daily struggle for justice. Thereafter he wants nothing more than to live the quiet life and try to catch up on the things he has missed out on, namely his family.