Ben GeenThe miscarriage of justice watchdog today agreed to take another look at the case of a nurse serving 30 years for murdering two patients and harming 15 others. Last October the Criminal Cases Review Commission decided not pursue the case of Ben Geen, described in the press as ‘a thrill-seeking nurse’  but whose family and supporters claim is serving time for crimes that were never committed.

Some 18 patients suffered unexplained respiratory arrests while staff nurse Ben Geen was on duty at Horton Green General Hospital between December 2003 to February 2004, including two who died. Geen has always protested his innocence. The prosecution argued that the sequence of incidents amounted to an ‘unusual pattern’ of sudden and unexplained respiratory arrest, and that Geen had to be the killer.

For background on the Ben Geen case – see here

There has been increasing disquiet about the safety of Ben Geen’s conviction. Only three weeks ago the High Court granted permission for his family to judicial review the Commission’s rejection of an application backed by five distinguished experts, including Professor David Hands, emeritus professor of mathematics at Imperial College, Professor Norman Fenton, professor in the school of electronic engineering and computer science at Queen Mary University of London, and Professor Stephen Senn, professor of statistics at CRP-Santé.

Geen’s lawyers insist that no crimes were committed and that the courts failed to get to grips with the statistical likelihood of a cluster of incidences arising. For example, Prof Fenton agreed that 18 respiratory arrests in two months where the same nurse was present was ‘not at all unusual’. ‘In any four year period in the UK it is almost certain that there will be several instances of exactly this kind of “abnormally high” sequence of respiratory events,’ he wrote in a statement in support of Geen. ‘It is actually very likely that, purely by chance, in at least one case there will be a nurse present at each event.’

‘We are very pleased that the Criminal Cases Review Commission have come to this new decision – avoiding a costly and unnecessary judicial review,’ Geen’s father Mick told today. ‘We look forward to working closely with the CCRC to give a full understanding regarding the importance of the new evidence that we have submitted to them to review.’ He said that he was hoping to meet face to face with the CCRC for the first time.

‘This is excellent news,’ commented Geen’s barrister Mark McDonald, who has acted pro bono on the case for 10 years. ‘I am of the firm view that once all the new evidence is fully analysed the CCRC will have real concerns about the safety of the convictions.’

The CCRC has allocated the case ‘with immediate effect’ which means it does not go to the back of the queue. It presently takes eight months for the commission to look at a new case from a prisoner. The family is hoping to submit new evidence from a leading medical expert proving that two patients collapsed through natural causes and not, as was accepted by the court in his trial, the unauthorised administration of insulin.

‘Taking the CCRC to court via a judicial review was a last resort for us – but it was necessary,’ said Mick Geen. ‘It was was the only door left open for us to get them to analyse our new evidence thoroughly.’ In granting the judicial review, Mr Justice Gilbart held that it was ‘arguable’ that there were failings by the watchdog in their consideration of Geen’s application.

Mick Geen continues: ‘That illustrates to us the difficulties that are encountered when people are analysing statistical evidence and the issues surrounding different types of evidential bias involved in Ben’s case. Our application for JR argued that the CCRC had completely failed to properly consider any of the new evidence; instead, they dismissed much of it out of hand and completely failed to understand the rest. This was very disappointing after two and a half years.’

According to the CCRC’s 2015 annual report, there were 28 challenges to its decisions last year. Whilst the watchdog has only lost one JR in its 19 years, it often concedes and last year two were conceded before application and one after a hearing. ‘The Commission would rather spend its resources reviewing cases than contesting expensive litigation, but on the few occasions when it is necessary we will fight judicial reviews all the way through the court process,’ a spokesman says.

‘We have been fighting for almost 10 years now to overturn this miscarriage of justice and to free Ben. I am increasingly aware that there is a growing swell of support and media interest in Ben’s case that’s gaining in momentum,’ he said. He thanked his lawyers and all the experts who have supported his son. ‘We cannot thank them all enough for their hard work and expertise. It has all been pro bono.’

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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  • UndoInjustice April 14, 2016 7:25 pm

    Justice needs to be seen to be done to restore public faith in the British Justice system. So much goes wrong. Ordinary people do not have the funds to contest miscarriages of justice resulting in many innocent people languishing in jails. Thank God for the moral steadfastness of the Pro Bono Experts actively righting wrongs.

  • Wullie Beck April 15, 2016 2:48 pm

    Good luck with the review.

  • Shirley Jones April 16, 2016 4:12 am

    Could these patterns of respiratory failure have been caused by patients being placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway (or its replacement after that was allegedly stopped, which is wasn’t) that has been so massively abused to date having been wrongly used on patients it was never intended for causing extremely high numbers of deaths in the elderly in hospitals, hospices, certain care homes, but also those younger deemed to be chronically sick with no quality of life so much so that Doctors deem they fit only for death, a forced death where the patient is drugged up on excessive amounts of morphine (even in cases where patients didn’t require painkilling medications) then had fluids and nutrition denied them so they died an unnecessarily horrific, terrifying death?

    This wasn’t helped by the Government paying a fee to hospitals, etc., for every patient they placed on the LCP. We must ask ourselves why was such a reward, some would say it was an incentive to kill, deemed so necessary by the Government? It was soon so stopped very quietly after it was made public. If it was deemed so necessary why stop it so quickly only after it made known to the public? No wonder incidence rates of certain causes of deaths increased dramatically only during the time these incentive fees were being paid out. I believe septicaemia was one of them for example, but could another have been ‘respiratory failure’?

    I agree totally with the opinions of ‘Undoinjustice’.

    This abuse and in some cases what could only be classed as murder according to law, is something that requires very urgent investigation.

    Could Ben have been a scapegoat for the abuse of this system? Just wondering if this aspect was ever considered by his legal team. It will not surprise me, and this is not a criticism of them in any way to be clear, that they were/are not aware of it or the huge extent of it. There are too many cases for this to be just coincidence and they too follow the same all too familiar patterns.

    Please could you pass this suggestion on. Yes the proof is out there but as always when these things are made public then cover ups ensue.

  • Dr Andrew Green April 17, 2016 12:33 pm

    So the threat of a well prepared judicial review can still get results! The determination of Ben’s father, Mick, is at last being rewarded. Congratulations.

    • Manzoor Hussain April 18, 2016 7:34 pm

      Dear Dr Andrew Green

      I hope that you are well and in the best of your health. I am writing to you after we briefly met at the 14th Annual Conference UAI in Liverpool on 10th October 2015. You may remember me, having a word with you regarding my oldest brother, who is doing time for no crime. As he was stitched up by our own famous West Midlands Serious Crime Squad in 1979 and later in 1992.

      One of the guest speakers from another UAI branch by the name I think Steve Gray also may have sent you some information later about myself speaking to him via email.

      Can you please guide me in the right direction of a very serious Miscarriage of Justice towards my brother, who receive broken limbs by the corrupt Police officers.

      Is it possible for you to please contact me directly on my email only, which is:

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