Richard Branson vows to fight for life of US death row inmate

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson has vowed to fight for the next 40 days to save the life of a US death row inmate whose execution was postponed at the last minute.

He says Richard Glossip, convicted of ordering his boss’s murder, is innocent and did not receive a fair trial.

The state of Oklahoma issued a last-minute stay of execution until November 6 over concerns about one of the three drugs to be used in the lethal injection, potassium acetate.

Speaking in Dublin, Mr Branson said he celebrated the postponement with his rock star friend Bono.

“We were particularly celebrating last night, a guy called Richard was about to be executed in America – we’re all absolutely convinced he’s innocent – and he got a 40 day reprieve,” he said.

“We’ve been campaigning with the government to try and get him reprieved.

Richard Branson vows to fight for life of US death row inmate

“So it gives 40 more days to try and make sure an innocent man doesn’t get executed.”

Owner of the Oklahoma City motel Barry Van Treese, Glossip’s boss, was found beaten to death in 1997.

Glossip was found guilty of recruiting his co-worker Justin Sneed to carry out the killing.

His conviction was based on the evidence of Sneed, who negotiated a life sentence by claiming Glossip masterminded the murder.

Richard Branson vows to fight for life of US death row inmate

For almost two decades, Glossip has proclaimed his innocence while his lawyers have questioned Sneed’s credibility.

Richard Branson took out a full-page ad in an Oklahoma newspaper before the planned execution on Wednesday accusing the state of putting to death a man whose guilt has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Pope Francis has also appealed against the execution.

In the Irish capital to rebrand the UPC cable company as Virgin Media, Sir Richard also revealed he cried when Germany declared it was opening its doors to migrants.

The tycoon behind the global Virgin brand said the world owed Europe’s powerhouse the “biggest hug” for doing the right thing.

“It brought tears to my eyes and a lot of people’s eyes when Germany offered to take a million people in, and we saw the train loads of people going to Germany,” he said.

“Germany needs the biggest hug from the world for their bravery, for doing the right thing.”

Mr Branson said Germany stands to financially benefit enormously from the effective open-door policy, which has proved controversial within the country.

“If you turn the clock forward five years, Germany will be a much stronger country as a result, but they still did the right thing,” he said.

“There are certainly countries that could benefit from taking more refugees in, and obviously the refugees themselves desperately need homes.”

Richard Branson said he was also celebrating U2’s birthday while in Ireland.

“We actually celebrated the fact that U2 formed 39 years ago last night,” he told a press briefing.

“So we had a few drinks with Bono. He’s a good friend and we’ve done some good things over the years.

“He’s always very supportive of anything we do, and we’re always very supportive of anything he does.

“We spent a lot of time talking about lots of different things, connectivity in the world, what’s going on in Africa, and we had a few fun drinks as well.”

Mr Branson, whose Virgin Rail trains operate on both Britain’s East and West Coast Lines, initially declined to comment on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for renationalising the railway network.

But he later returned to the subject, saying: “People need to remember what rail was like in the 1980s when it was run by government.

“It was diabolical, and it’s been transformed since, and that’s all I’ll say on that subject.”

Before his election as Labour leader, Mr Corbyn once remarked: “We (the public) rebuild the West Coast Main line and then praise Richard Branson for running a protected and (to him) profitable service of Pendolino trains. Something is wrong.”

More in this Section

Coronavirus: Outbreak starts to look more like worldwide economic crisisCoronavirus: Outbreak starts to look more like worldwide economic crisis

Passengers evacuated as smoke billows over major railway station in ParisPassengers evacuated as smoke billows over major railway station in Paris

Coronavirus passed on within UK for first time as 20th case confirmed thereCoronavirus passed on within UK for first time as 20th case confirmed there

Covid-19 ‘drive-through’ testing centre launched in ScotlandCovid-19 ‘drive-through’ testing centre launched in Scotland


Spring has sprung and a new Munster festival promises to celebrate its arrival with gusto, says Eve Kelliher.Spring has sprung: Munster festival promises to celebrate with gusto

The spotlight will fall on two Munster architects in a new showcase this year.Munster architects poised to build on their strengths

Prepare to fall for leather, whatever the weather, says Annmarie O'Connor.Trend of the week: It's always leather weather

The starting point for Michael West’s new play, in this joint production by Corn Exchange and the Abbey, is an alternative, though highly familiar, 1970s Ireland. You know, elections every few weeks, bad suits, wide ties, and a seedy nexus of politics and property development.Theatre Review: The Fall of the Second Republic at Abbey Theatre, Dublin

More From The Irish Examiner