Not innocent enoughMy brother, Barry George, who was wrongly convicted of the murder of TV presenter, Jill Dando, has never been awarded any compensation for the years he spent incarcerated for this killing. His conviction was quashed in 2007, and he was then released in 2008, when the jury at his second trial unanimously found him not guilty. Since then, we have tried every avenue we could think of to get this government to correct the wrong, and to make recompense for all that he has lost.

  • Sign the ‘Not innocent enough’ petition here
  • You can read about compensation for the victims of miscarriages and the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing 2014  here

Barry has been told by British Justice that he has ‘not proven his innocence’ and that ‘a jury, properly directed, could have found him guilty.’ Therefore, he is not considered a miscarriage of justice…because they had evidence! How many trials are proceeded with that have NO evidence? Just living in the area is considered evidence. When that (circumstantial) evidence was put before a jury, at retrial, they found him, unanimously, not guilty. Were they NOT properly directed?

Barry George

Barry George

After battling the British Justice System for fourteen years, we were left in limbo. Should we just give up, or was there a way of taking this to Europe, to the European Court of Human Rights?

But why should we have to go to Europe to fix our broken justice system. Surely we can do that ourselves? Then, via social media, I came across another man, fighting the same issue. He had also been refused compensation under Section133 of the Criminal Justice Act. This man, Martin Foran, has had two convictions overturned; he is the only double miscarriage of justice victim in British history.

While I was pondering what we should do, I read of the plight of another recently released man, Victor Nealon. I’d known of Victor’s case through the social media ‘community’ of those who are also battling injustice, and who support each other online. Victor was released from prison with just three hours’ notice, given £46 and sent on his way. After 17 years in prison, where was he to go when he had lost his home and all of his possessions?

Enough is enough
Having reviewed Victor’s case, and his acquittal, it came as a great shock to me to hear that, he too, had been refused under S133. Each of these men were fighting the colossal might of the justice system, alone, and being brushed off at every turn. Their battle was so huge, that I did not feel equipped to do anything to help, but on doing some research, I discovered that there is no way, under British law, to prove one’s innocence. This is because we have an ‘adversarial’ system, whereby, a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, and it is for the prosecution to prove guilt.

Victor Nealon, front cover, Indy on Sunday

Independent on Sunday, January 18 2015

Enough is enough. We must now act, and fight this together. Not only because these men deserve to be allowed to re-start their lives, but because this is an unworkable amendment to our justice system. If the defendant at trial has nothing to prove (the defence are given a smaller budget because of this precept), why, when the conviction is overturned, is the presumption of innocence not restored?

Actually, it is, in that under our justice system one is either guilty or innocent, there is no middle ground, unlike Scotland, where you can have a verdict of ‘not proven’.

Prison is a terrible place. Full of violence and intimidation, and for the person who refuses to accept guilt, and fights the system, this is intensified. Families can be sundered and may never recover from a wrongful conviction. I have first-hand experience of just how destructive and terrifying the whole nightmare is.

Do we really live in a country where we incarcerate innocent people and then toss them out to fend for themselves, in a world they don’t even recognise? There is no phased release, as there is for an offender, to rehabilitate them. No counselling to help them to readjust to normal society. They become outcasts. The public perception is that, all wrongly convicted persons receive compensation, and everything’s all right Jack! Well that is certainly not the case, and if this disgraceful situation with S133 is not corrected, no one will ever receive recompense again (unless the real perpetrator is convicted).

‘Not innocent enough’ is unworkable. There is no framework in the justice system for the acquitted person to prove innocence. At trial they are told ‘you have nothing to prove’, at acquittal they are told ‘you have not proven your innocence’. This is not acceptable and must be challenged.

More men have since joined us and, as a group we have planned a protest to coincide with day one of the Magna Carta 800 year commemoration, which takes place at Westminster on 23rd February.

The Magna Carta enshrines ‘Justice for all’, but we will be highlighting the fact that there is no justice for the little man.

It also states that ‘no man is above the law’, although that is exactly where the Secretary of State has placed himself with these amendments. And if the way these men have been treated is anything to go by, British Justice affords no safeguards for the human rights of the wrongly convicted!

Surely the state has a moral duty to correct its wrongs and to reinstate that which was wrongly taken away?

 

Profile photo of Michelle Bates About Michelle Bates
Michelle is Barry George's sister. She is campaigning to amend the laws that refuse compensation to people whose convictions have been overturned, or who have been found not guilty at retrial. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/not-innocent-enough-unlawful

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9 Comments

  • UndoInjustice February 13, 2015 5:54 pm

    Thank you Michelle for your article. Hard to believe British Justice no longer considers that “the conviction of an innocent man is deemed the greatest miscarriage of justice.” Helena Kennedy QC. Only when it occurs to a person near you is this horrific experience understood. I believe the public mistakenly think miscarriages of justice are rare. The plight of victims of Wrongful Convictions and the denial of their full and fair compensation must surely be an election issue.

  • Christopher Lennon February 14, 2015 11:20 am

    ‘Not proven (guilty)’ about sums it up. Overturning a conviction on appeal is a technical finding that the person ought not to have been convicted, on the evidence placed before the court. It is not and cannot be, a finding of innocence. You cannot ‘prove’ innocence unless someone else is convicted of the offence. How else would you do it?
    If I recall correctly, the fact Barry George lived in the vicinity was one evidential circumstance, but there were others too.
    Section 133, Criminal Justice Act 1988 states: “The question whether there is a right to compensation … shall be determined by the Secretary of State.” Therefore, it is discretionary. If everyone whose conviction was overturned on a technical appeal was automatically entitled to compensation, there might be a public outcry in some cases.
    THe situation does not appear to have much to do with our adversarial litigation system, which is an important defining characteristic of the Common Law, adopted by most States in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries. You are not suggesting we should abandon the Common Law, are you?
    The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has been imported into the Law of the United Kingdom by the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA). Therefore, if your brother has a human rights case, he can bring it in the UK. There is a right to a fair trial (Article 6, ECHR), which he has had, I presume you would now agree? Article 5 provides a right to liberty and security and section 5.5 provides for compensation for wrongful detention, but arguably, your brother was not wrongfully detained until after the second trial verdict, when he was released.

  • Wullie Beck February 15, 2015 3:44 pm

    I believe a civil suit brought by Jimmy Boyle at the GTCS (featured in the photo above) found him guilty.
    I also believe more than one member of his family gave evidence against him.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-20769477

    http://news.stv.tv/west-central/206463-ex-teacher-cleared-of-rape-and-sex-abuse-fails-to-return-to-schools//

    I agree that in some cases the guilty walk in the footsteps of the innocent though do not think this applies to Barry George.

    Barry was, I believe totally Innocent.

  • Christy Walsh February 16, 2015 11:21 pm

    Christopher Lennon I presume that you have not been proven guilty of anything just like Barry George. I bet at least one crime or another has happened not too far from your home… you are starting to look just as guilty as you paint Barry George.

    How guilty do I look to the Minister of inJustice?

    “He also refers to his previous (mistaken) suggestions that we regard him as guilty … If Walsh’s application succeeds it may gain a higher profile and raise questions over other convictions.”
    Departmental advice to the Minister of Justice, 14 June 2011

    • Christopher Lennon March 7, 2015 5:06 pm

      Christy, a poor girl was murdered near my home a few years ago – by a drive-by gunman on a motorcycle. However, I didn’t know her, much less have an obsessive interest in her, so I didn’t come under justified police suspicion.

  • Suzanne Smith February 24, 2015 4:12 am

    I know people in Britain like to think the Magna Carta means a lot, but it doesn’t really, because while the USA used the Magna Carta as a basis for their codified written constitution, here in Britain we don’t have a codified, easy to look up by anybody written document as the highest law, that all other laws and policies have to follow.
    Yes we have an unwritten constitution, made up of a few historical documents and traditions/conventions, that mean nothing compared to Parliamentary sovereignty. Instead of a written constitution, in Britain we have Parliamentary sovereignty, where Acts of Parliament are our highest law, so that to take away any rights we had previously, they can just make another Act. Although we also have delegated legislation that can be misused, where minsters are given power to make laws that no other MPs vote on. The nearest thing we have to an easy to look up document protecting our freedom is the human right law we now have. British lawyers wrote the human rights after WW2, which only guarantee basic natural freedoms. Conservatives and UKIP lie about it being old fashioned, so they can treat British people worse for their upper class friends and corporate donors, but it’s more modern than the USA constitution. There’s no reason for taking that away, apart from them wanting to mistreat British people. The Tories voted against Labour’s House of Lords reform, so their upper class friends could be entitled to be paid for doing nothing, some even sleeping on the job, with expenses and subsidised bars and restaurants. While around the same time they voted against a minimum wage, telling anybody they’re lazy if they don’t work in a job with slave labour conditions, for their tax dodging corporate donors. Plus they lie about taking away human rights because of terrorists, because there already are exceptions for national security, and all of those who have taken their case to the human rights court failed in their case. It’s mainly about taking away human rights from British people, to keep them in their place. Like when the Tories controlled the media, with dubbing out the voices of Sinn Fein members so we couldn’t hear the whole story, while making no attempt at a peace plan, putting us all in danger.

    • Christopher Lennon March 7, 2015 5:02 pm

      Gosh, Suzanne, what a mixed up kid you are.

  • Scott February 24, 2015 4:49 pm

    Hello,

    I am the host of an online radio station.

    I would be interested to interview Barry George or his brother and investigate this case for a podcast to people can decide what they think based on the facts.

    You can check out our channel on the link attached. Actully our last episode was similarly presenting the facts in another case – that of Phil Spector but we generally cover the news, cover up, corruption, mysteries etc.

    Check out our channel and if George or his brother is willing to talk – please could you contact us on the email attached.

    Thanks and Best wishes,

    Scott
    Truth Sentinel

  • Paul Nelson May 28, 2015 11:45 am

    Dear Michelle,
    I’ve been reading up on your Brother’s case as part of a Television documentary series for Channel 5 that is trying to put together a profile of what might actually have happened to Ms. Dando. As part of this process I would be interested to know if either you or your Brother George would be prepared to offer YOUR opinion on who might have committed the murder.

    I would like to make it explicitly clear that I would be happy to provide both you and George a forum for you to reiterate George’s innocence in the documentary and offer us your opinions on the case. It would seem to me that if we are to explore other theories that evolve around the death of Ms. Dando – that George’s views are would be of terrific interest.

    I would hope that this is a request that you might consider and perhaps prevail upon you to contact me privately for us to discuss?

    Sincerely,

    Paul
    Channel 5

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