The Innocence Network UK, an umbrella group for the university-based Innocence Projects set up by law students to investigate miscarriage cases, has  called for an overhaul of the CCRC and its referral powers. Dr Michael Naughton, director of the Innocence Network and a long-standing CCRC critic, argues that the CCRC is hamstrung by the statutory straitjacket of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 that requiring only cases with the “real possibility” of the conviction being overturned to be referred to the court of appeal. This weekend the campaign group United Against Injustice meets to discuss the need for ‘a concerted united campaign that will bring together prisoners, ex prisoners, families, academics, MPs, and celebrities to challenge the legitimacy of the CCRC’.

You can read a full version of this article by Jon Robins in the Guardian HERE.

You can read Julie Price and Dr Dennis Eady, of the Cardiff Law School Innocence Project  on the case for reform HERE.

‘The court of appeal needs to consider potential miscarriages of justice rather than rigid rules, and to abandon the absurd notion of jury infallibility and the grossly unfair requirement for ‘new’ evidence or argument: in many cases, the evidence needed was there all along.’ Julie Price and Dr Dennis Eady

Profile photo of Jon Robins About Jon Robins
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award

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1 Comment

  • Lippy January 27, 2012 4:29 pm

    I can’t say that I agree. The courts would be clogged up with unmeritorious cases if the CRCC referred a losing case. What concerns me more is:

    1. the CRCC’s powers to get new evidence and using the police to get it. Does that enable the prosecution to re-draw their own case off the queries raised by the defence in thier applications in the event of a CRCC appeal to stop their case being referred? I hope not because if it does that would be entirely wrong because decisions to refer should strictly be confined to already disclosed evidence from the Prosecution. Anything incriminating that wasn’t disclosed should not be allowed to creep into the process at all – not unless the defence permits it. Any why should they? It seems possible that the prosecutions can offer up explanations, newly generate evidence to close off newly revealed weaknesses in the prosecution’s original case to stop the CRCC application from succeeding and not be referred.

    2. My other concern is if the CRCC have too many cases to peruse and they just skim over the application and dump it on the reject pile – not really understanding the issues or just assuming that the criminal justice system works when it doesn’t always. Half the time, the reasons there are miscarriages of justice is down to the defence lawyers doing such a rum job preparing the case and because police generate evidence, they don’t uncover it. Isn’t it likely that the CRCC would make the same errors?

    As it is, I have a strong faith in the criminal justice system because if someone is guilty of an offence and there was enough disclosed evidence to convict there is no way an appeal would succeed. I am just wondering if that is the test applied by the CRCC or whether it is more a case of the defence not being adequately prepared through no fault of their own; the judge finding the defendent guilty based on what was presented in court and not being referred because the judge did not misapply the law or gratuitously ignore the facts – meaning that innocent defendents can’t be referred. I do hope not.

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