• The Colour of Injustice by John Hostettler - book cover

The Colour of Injustice

The Mysterious Murder of the Daughter of a High Court Judge

by John Hostettler


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Based on actual (sometimes exclusive) materials, The Colour of Injustice raises questions about politics and the judiciary in post Second World War Northern Ireland. Describing parallel worlds of power and influence, this book – the first on the case – shows corruption at its most disturbing, justice at its most deficient. The case of Ian Hay Gordon involves a miscarriage of justice brought about in circumstances of privilege, patronage and the social and religious divides existing in Northern Ireland in the decades following World War II. It lifts the lid on a world in which institutions operated against a backdrop of behind-the-scenes influences and manipulation, in which nothing is what it seems due to hidden allegiances, walls of silence and a multitude of competing agendas spanning religious, sectarian and authoritarian interests. It is also a case in which despite the framing of an innocent man there was sufficient concern that he might not be guilty that a way had to be found to ensure that he did not end up on the gallows. Hence the twists, turns and manipulations of a tragic story that was to see a young and until then medically-fit RAF officer confined to a mental institution for a large part of his life. Behind this bizarre sequence of events sits the tragic death of Patricia Curran, the daughter of a High Court judge, killed in the grounds of their home (or was she murdered elsewhere?), a refusal to admit investigators to Glen House, Whiteabbey, Belfast where blood was many years later discovered beneath a carpet, delay in calling the police, private removal of the body, a knee-jerk arrest and other mysterious events surrounding a case in which no proper investigation of the crime scene or other potential suspects took place.


‘A trenchant and analytical account of a pivotal period in legal history. Hostettler revisits the facts, lays out the evidence and reveals sometimes new and exclusive materials and insights into the case. Rather mercilessly, the book also sheds considerable light on the social structure, ethos and insularity of post-World War II Northern Ireland … Everyone from lawyers, academics and social scientists, to interested general readers will find this book a fascinating read’: Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers.


The formal processes of criminal justice and the techniques of police interrogation apart, the investigative process is revealed to have been forensically incompetent… The identity of Patricia Curran’s killer remains unknown and, thanks to the performance of various members of the dramatis personæ in this tragedy it may ever remain so. Nonetheless, it may be possible with some accuracy to conjecture who the murderer might have been.


John Hostettler is one of the UK’s leading legal biographers, having written over 20 biographies and other books on legal history. With Richard Braby he was the author of the acclaimed and highly successful Sir William Garrow: His Life, Times and Fight for Justice as reflected in the BBC TV series Garrow’s Law.

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Weight272 g
Dimensions234 × 156 × 10 mm


Waterside Press




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United Kingdom

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