The family of Eddie Gilfoye has promised to fight on after the miscarriage of justice watchdog rejected the latest attempt to overturn his conviction. It has been more than five years since the Criminal Cases Review Commission was presented with new evidence raising serious questions about the safety of the 54 year old’s conviction for murdering his wife in 1992.
A statement from his lawyers Birnberg Peirce & Partners, said that this latest development was ‘far from the end of Eddie Gilfoyle’s fight to clear his name’. ‘Eddie will want to to make an informed decision and is faced with the potential of taking on the CCRC in addition to every organ of the legal system to get justice. It’s regrettable but maybe in the wider interests of others for him to do so.’
The case is one of the highest profile alleged miscarriage of justices in recent years. Paula Gilfoyle was discovered hanging from a beam in the garage of their home in Upton, on the Wirral. She was eight and a half months pregnant and seemingly happy. The jury in the trial was told that pregnant women don’t kill themselves and, instead, accepted that Gilfoyle tricked his wife into writing a suicide note, persuaded her to climb a step ladder up and put her head in the noose.
- You can read the Times articles and much more on www.eddiegilfoyle.co.uk (here)
- You can read Eddie’s sister Sue Caddick’s account (here)
- The journalist David Jessel made a Trial & Error on the Gilfoyle case in 1996. He interviewed Eddie Gilfoyle for the Justice Gap in 2013 here.
The CCRC’s decision to reject the application, apparently consisting of more than 2,000 pages a fresh argument, comes as a shock in a case which attracted unease about safety of the initial conviction from the start and which appeared to have almost completely unraveled over the last couple of years leaving a police cover-up exposed.
It has been almost six years since dramatic evidence emerged undermining Paula as the happy-go-lucky young woman presented to the jury. In August 2010 Gilfoyle’s solicitor Matt Foot came across a padlocked metal box containing her diaries whilst going through unused exhibits at a local police station. The diaries were withheld from the original defence and revealed a complicated past including a previous suicide attempt, plus the suicide threat of her first boyfriend Mark Roberts who was convicted of rape and murder.
In 2012 it emerged that that the initial botched investigation had not come about by accident but was the result of a deliberate policy. The coroner’s officer was first on the scene effectively, taking control and, in doing so, losing vital evidence – he had told more senior detectives ‘there’s nothing for you’ – as a result of a highly unusual local policy whereby the police control room called out the coroner’s officer in all cases of the suspicious death.
Last month there were yet more revelations this time eroding the integrity of the original police investigation. The Times, which has championed the case since Gilfoyle’s release in December 2010, reported a ‘police cover-up exposed 23 years after husband’s murder trial’. ‘Has a more tangled web ever been weaved by British police than that around the case of Eddie Gilfoyle?’ asked investigations editor Dominic Kennedy.
There was an appeal in 1995 followed by a second appeal on the referral of the CCRC in 2000. The Commission has long been under fire for its inaction on the Gilfoyle case. The House of Commons’ justice committee in last year’s report into the CCRC quoted Paul May, who chaired the Birmingham Six campaign and has run many miscarriage campaigns, calling the delay a ‘disgrace’.
The recent rejection of the case has stunned those watching the Gilfoyle case which appeared to be gathering unstoppable momentum. In the last few weeks high profile long term supporters of Gilfoyle have spoken out about the case. Alison Halford, the assistant chief constable of Merseyside Police at the time of Mrs Gilfoyle’s death, last month described the new revelations as ‘sickening’. ‘Eddie Gilfoyle’s life has been ruined,’ she told the Liverpool Echo. ‘Merseyside Police have lied, and lied, and withheld evidence. Someone has to be held accountable. It makes me feel sick.’
Lord Hunt, Gilfoyle’s former MP, this month wrote to the then Home Secretary, now prime minister Theresa May to intervene. ‘This is becoming a long-running saga of cover-up after cover-up,’ said Hunt, who has been convinced of Gilfoyle’s innocence for years. ‘The home secretary should lift the lid on what has been a catalogue of errors resulting in the most unjust conviction of anybody in my 40 years in Parliament.’
‘This is far from the end of Eddie Gilfoyle’s fight to clear his name. There will never be an end to when someone like Eddie is wrongly convicted. Eddie has had to fight systems failure within the legal system, his case has now become a sad example of systems failure of the CCRC. Eddie will want to to make an informed decision and is faced with the potential of taking on the CCRC in addition to every organ of the legal system to get justice. It’s regrettable but maybe in the wider interests of others for him to do so.’
Statement released through Birnberg Peirce & Partners
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