Saturday, 19 April 2014

JOINT ENTERPRISE: THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD TO REFORM

April 17, 2014 — Review
Written by Liz Fekete
A review of a new report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Injustice is simple, but legal reform is complex – that is the message, if you read between the lines, of this new report from the Bureau for Investigative Journalism which focuses on homicide convictions arising out of the legal doctrine of joint enterprise. Sometimes known as common purpose, joint enterprise allows for secondary defendants (i.e. those who did not physically commit the crime) to be charged with the same crime as the principal defendant who committed the main (index) offence, on the basis that they ‘knowingly assisted or encouraged the crime and agreed to act together with for a common purpose’. ‘Knowing assistance’ embraces secondary defendants who should have foreseen the results of the principal defendant’s action. This prosecution of multiple defendants in murder cases is a pretty harsh approach to those on the periphery of a crime, as murder carries a mandatory life sentence. Under the 2003 Criminal Justice Act, those convicted of murder must serve at least fifteen years, while changes introduced in 2010 sets the minimum term for a murder involving a knife at twenty-five years.
The findings of the 44-page report, Joint Enterprise: An investigation into the legal doctrine of joint enterprise in criminal convictions have been drawn from a survey of legal practitioners designed and conducted by the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism at City University London. Information was also gleaned from Freedom of Information requests, detailed examination of court papers in selected case studies, and previous academic research undertaken by Dr Dennis Eady on behalf of the campaigning group Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association (JENGbA).
The motivation of the three authors of the report seems to be to tease out the anomalies of the law and suggest ways in which prosecutions of joint enterprise cases can be improved.
Why the research?
Report author and JENGbA campaigners outside Parliament following the launch of the report
Thanks to the campaigning efforts of JENGbA, which is supporting 450 prisoners convicted under the doctrine (around 78 per cent of whom are from BME families), joint enterprise is no longer a buried issue and is publicly discussed as a problem in the media and parliament. In 2011 the Justice Select Committee convened a short inquiry to examine the doctrine, during which the chair, Sir Alan Beith, memorably stated (in response to the disclosure that the CPS keeps no official records on joint enterprise prosecutions) that ‘Nowadays, there are statistics to prove and disprove everything on earth. It seems to me rather strange that there are no statistics to show how often [joint enterprise] is used.’ In the light of the CPS failure to collect meaningful data on joint enterprise, Dr Dennis Eady examined 101 joint enterprise convictions of people who maintained that their conviction was unjust. While the data included inPerceptions of People: Maintaining Unjust Conviction under Joint Enterprise laws related to a small sample and statistical reliability was limited by the nature of self-reporting, it did reveal much about the nature and circumstances of joint enterprise convictions. Around 25 per cent of the sample had been convicted of joint enterprise murder, yet they say that they had no previous criminal convictions and that their sentence tariffs were approaching 30 per cent higher when the defendant claimed not to have been present at the scene of the crime (usually with the prosecution suggesting a planning role).
Filling the knowledge gap
The Bureau’s report is the result of an eight-month research project. It fills many (although not all) the statistical gaps (notably, the Bureau acknowledges its inability to collect data on ethnicity). Some of the most interesting parts of the research findings come in Chapter 1 (background and methodology) and Chapters 2 (data) and 3 (Exploring the Issues). Here we find a very useful description of the 300-year-old doctrine and its underlying principles based on guilt by association, as well as several case studies. There is valuable data too on the distortions to police and CPS rationale and ethics that arise from joint enterprise prosecutions, data that could be gold dust in the battle for legal reform. Some 17.7 per cent of all homicide prosecutions from 2005 to 2013 involved four or more defendants, suggesting that the use of joint enterprise is common in murder cases. But the more defendants charged with an offence, the more likely it is that the CPS will at a later date offer ‘no evidence’, leading the charge to be dropped at trial stage. The authors’ approach is largely along the lines of letting the facts speak for themselves (though Melanie McFadyean in the report’s Afterword attempts to go beyond the technicalities, and with her journalist’s eye embed into the discussion a political and human dimension).
Institutionalised injustice?
All the authors would, I am sure, privately acknowledge that data such as this cries out for political analysis. For the arrest and prosecution of so many defendants, some on the periphery of the scene of a murder (and some not even at the crime scene at all), suggests that the police and CPS are using the doctrine for purposes other than securing justice for the victims. One QC interviewed for the report describes joint enterprise as working as a ‘drift net’, catching ‘little fish as well as big ones, and lumping them all together’. But another point of view is that joint enterprise, by giving the police and prosecution services draconian powers, has helped create a two-tier criminal justice system in which poorer and marginalised communities are viewed as less deserving of rights and injustice is institutionalised. Ijah Lavelle Moore was aged 20 at the time of his arrest as a secondary party in the joint enterprise murder of Malakai McKenzie in Nottingham in 2012. Ijah, who wasn’t even present at the scene of the murder but was ‘scooped up’ solely because he was a friend of the principal defendant, spent 14 months on remand awaiting trial. During his trial, the young man’s mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer, dying nine days before her son was acquitted of all charges.
The way forward
This is a report written from the legal perspective and aimed at addressing the concerns of lawyers and other legal experts – a gathering together of their opinions, and a nudge to the legal establishment that reform is long overdue.  But there is a wider political context in which the doctrine of joint enterprise is applied; namely the steady criminalisation of poor, working-class and BME communities that has occurred over the last thirty years, not least through the 3,600 new criminal offences created during successive Labour governments. Multiple convictions under joint enterprise have played their part in the doubling of the prison population since 1993. The wider struggle against the ongoing injustices of laws that are built on guilt by association continues and will continue to be fought, with or without the lawyers.
RELATED LINKS
JENGbA campaigners are marching in London and Manchester on Saturday 3 May
(Original source at http://www.irr.org.uk/news/joint-enterprise-the-long-and-winding-road-to-reform/)

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Monday, 20 January 2014

23 Reasons Why 23 Years is Enough: Clemency for Pascual Carpenter



Pascual Carpenter (along with six others) was convicted under the Felony-Murder Rule for his role as a lookout in the 1990 New York City subway robbery that resulted in the death of Utah tourist Brian Watkins. He has been in prison for the last 23 years.

This is a documentary about both Pascual's conviction and the much-criticized Felony-Murder Rule. The Felony-Murder Rules transfers culpability to accomplices for any death that occurs during certain felonies, regardless of the person's role in the crime. Pascual, an 18-year-old at the time of the offence, never foresaw, witnessed, aided, or concurred with any fatal aggression on that horrible night.

The release of 23 Reasons is timed to coincide with Pascual's supporter's petition campaign requesting that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sign an Executive Clemency for Pascual.

Sign the petition now!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Email To Commonwealth Human Rights Initative (CHRI) - December 6, 2013

"Hi

I wonder if you can advise us if you have a policy or guidance on the application and adoption of the English Common Law Principle of "Joint Enterprise" or "Joint Criminal Enterprise" in the Criminal Legal Systems of the Commonwealth Nations?
 
JENGbA (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association) is a campaign group seeking to reform the abuse of this legal principle mainly in England & Wales but has become aware of cases in other parts of the world including Australia, several Caribbean Islands (including Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada), and in the Solomon Islands.   We are beginning to see the misuse of the Doctrine of "Common Purpose" as a Human Rights Issue, where Collective Liability is used to prosecute, convict, and sentence people with lesser or even no involvement in the main offence.
 
We are very interested in CHRI's research or opinion on the application of this legal principle and hope you can refer us to Human Rights Campaign groups in the Commonwealth who we can approach to find out their own views and experiences.
 
You can find out about JENGbA at the links below.
 
Thank you for reading!"

 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Justice for Jack Dempsey - Another Joint Enterprise Case

My son, Jack Dempsey, is a victim of the perverse law known as Joint Enterprise. His crime was to behave bravely by pursuing a criminal assailant to detain him and for that he received a sentence of life imprisonment.

The Party
In January 2003, Jack was out with a friend and acquaintances, Nicki Miller, sisters Stacey and Ashley Faunch, and Stacey's boyfriend, Tyrone Woolley. They were celebrating Nicki's eighteenth birthday. Jack was twenty-one, Woolley was twenty-three and the sisters were both under twenty years old. Nicki was the only one of the party who Jack knew as a friend. The others were just acquaintances. They went to a disco, The Boulevarde, in London's Ealing Broadway, and had a good time. As the party left the club they saw an abusive row going on between some East European guys and three young men, two black guys and twenty-seven years old Paul Carr, who was of mixed race. They deliberately avoided this fracas by turning into a pedestrianized shopping precinct. But the row tailed off just then and Paul Carr and his companions followed them into the precinct.

The First Incident
What happened next is attested to by witnesses. Paul Carr and his mates caught up with Nicki Miller's party near a well known horse statue just off Uxbridge Road. They started chatting-up the girls, who told them they had boyfriends. At first, the encounter was good-natured but Paul Carr persisted with his unwelcome advances and the exchanges became heated. Tyrone Woolley then produced a flick-knife from his hip pocket and threatened Carr. This was the first time anybody else in the party knew Woolley had a knife on him. Jack was alarmed by this development and interposed himself between Woolley and the other guys. Carr's two companions were also worried and pulled Paul Carr away, saying they didn't want any trouble. Woolley then put the knife away. As the two groups parted, Carr pulled free of his mates and returned to pester Ashley Faunch. He started to paw her and she warded him off. A witness overlooking this incident from his bedroom window testified to exactly what happened then. As Ashley fended him off, Carr punched her so forcefully in the face that her tooth penetrated her cheek. She fell unconscious to the ground. Carr turned and fled immediately after delivering this vicious punch. The others, including Carr's companions, ran to help Ashley but Jack chased after Carr straight away. As he ran around the corner on to Uxbridge Road, Carr stopped and tried to punch Jack, but missed. Jack tried to punch back but Carr caught his arm and threw him down, then he fled again. Jack got up and pursued Carr again. He did not know that Tyrone Woolley and Stacey Faunch had joined the chase behind him at that point.



The Fatal Second Incident

Paul Carr ran about two hundred metres into another disco where he was already known as a troublemaker. The bouncer, Mr Ngei, grabbed him and started to push him back out just as Jack arrived. Jack was panting for breath, but he called for the receptionist to call the police and he shouted at Carr, "Why are you punching girls?" He said this hoping the bouncer would help him to hold Carr until the police arrived. Woolley and Stacey arrived behind Jack as Carr was forced out of the doorway. Carr threw a punch at Jack as soon as the bouncer released him, but missed. Jack tried to pin his arms but Carr pulled away and then threw a punch at Woolley, who scuffled with him. Woolley then turned and ran from the scene. Paul Carr pulled his shirt off, revealing a blood wound to his side. He then collapsed. At that point, Jack and Stacey realised Woolley had used his knife. They too then ran from the scene. This all took place in less than a minute.

The Aftermath
Jack and Stacey returned to the horse statue to rejoin Nicki Miller and Ashley Faunch, who had recovered consciousness by then. There was no sign of Tyrone Woolley so Jack called him on his mobile. Woolley agreed to return to meet them. When he came back, Jack and the three girls got into his car but Woolley wanted to go to his mother's house to discuss the incident. Jack knew this was a very serious issue and he told Woolley to drop him off instead. After Jack left the car. Stacey asked her boyfriend, "What did you do?" Woolley replied, "I stabbed him." At his house, his mother also asked what happened and Woolley told her he had, "... stabbed the guy with his car keys!" All three girls testified to these confessions later. Paul Carr died in hospital about an hour after the stabbing.


The following afternoon as Jack returned from work on a bus, he saw police incident tapes around the entrance of The Boulevarde. He phoned Woolley and told him the matter was obviously quite serious. Later that day, the media reported the death of Paul Carr and the police hunt for the 'gang' responsible. Woolley and his mother took a plane to America that evening.

The three girls were traced the next day and then armed police raided Jack's mother's house looking for him. Jack had moved in with his partner and their baby son a few weeks earlier and so he was safe for a while. He decided to give himself up a few days later because he knew the police would have heard all the details from the girls. He also knew he had not done anything criminal.

The Murder Charges and Trial

Jack and Stacey were both charged with murder! Tyrone Woolley was arrested weeks later in Canada and was extradited to face trial along with them. Jack and Stacey were charged with murder under the doctrine of Joint Enterprise

Woolley's defence was that it was Jack who had stabbed Paul Carr. He said he had no weapon that night and denied producing a flick-knife at the horse statue incident in spite of the evidence of the girls and Paul Carr's two companions. He denied confessing to the girls in the car and at his mother's house and claimed that Jack and the three girls, including his own girlfriend, beside him in the dock, had conspired to blame him in his absence! Needless to say, he was convicted of murder.

Khalid: The police had acquired a very pliable and untrustworthy witness. He was an Afghan by name of Khalid, whose English was very poor and whose immigration status was questionable. He was operating that night as an illegal mini-cab driver. He had given false identification details to the police at the scene of the killing but they traced him after a week of enquiries at other mini-cab firms in the area.



His evidence was contradicted by numerous verifiable facts; his claim to have seen into the club's foyer as Paul Carr was manhandled out - but CCTV coverage of the entrance to the disco shows the pair of drapes that makes that impossible! - the evidence of Mr Ngei and other people at the scene as well as the differing accounts of the incident he gave in several different statements.



Critically, he had confused Jack with the victim. He described Jack as a "half-caste" and Paul Carr as "the boy". The reverse was true. Jack was twenty-one and white English whereas Paul Carr was twenty-seven with an African father and an English mother. Khalid also passed Jack by and misidentified an innocent volunteer in a police line-up. Regardless, both the prosecution and the trial judge used his highly dubious evidence to suggest that both Jack and Stacey had participated in an attack on Paul Carr in the doorway of the disco. He claimed to have heard the 'half-caste' (Jack) shouting, "Give it to him." to Woolley in the club's entrance. He also said Stacey had kicked Paul Carr as he lay on the ground dying.



This was deadly Joint Enterprise evidence against Jack and Stacey, despite the fact that even the prosecution conceded Khalid's evidence could be as much as 75% wrong! Stacey's counsel was able to prove materially that Khalid was definitely wrong about the alleged kick.



Pathology Evidence:

Dr Freddy Patel was declared unfit to practice and struck off by the General Medical Council in August 2012. Unfortunately, he was still on the Home Office list of pathologists in 2003 and his evidence was very damaging against both Jack and Stacey because he recorded a number of bruises and brawl injuries as well as two stab wounds on Paul Carr's body. This made it look as if these injuries were inflicted on him at the entrance of The Boulevarde but that was not the case.



Apart from the stab wounds, all the cuts and bruises on his body were older because he had been involved in a very violent fight with two off-duty policemen in a pub in Harrow three days earlier. The pub window was broken in this fight and he also resisted arrest violently when uniformed police arrived, adding to his injuries. A police doctor recorded his injuries at the police station in Harrow but Freddy Patel made no age distinction between the various injuries and the stab wounds in his written report.



This written report was accepted because the defence, inexplicably, did not call evidence about the Harrow fight. It was classified as 'unused evidence' and Dr Patel was not called to be cross-examined. This meant that the jury could conclude that there was a violent fight involving Woolley, Jack, Stacey and Paul Carr during the course of which he suffered the various other injuries recorded in the post mortem report.   

Jack's Defence:
Jack related truthfully the sequence of events and his role and intentions in pursuing Paul Carr that night to the police when he gave himself up and in the witness box at the trial. Only Khalid's evidence conflicted with Jack's and Stacey's accounts. But his evidence also conflicted with the bouncer's evidence. Mr Ngei remembered hearing Jack shout, "Why are you punching girls." but denied hearing anything else and contradicted claims by Khalid about the alleged fight. The disco receptionist confirmed the bouncer's account. Nevertheless, the trial judge was hostile and bad-tempered with these two witnesses but highly accommodating with Khalid. He gave Khalid an hour's break during his cross-examination to allow him to refresh himself with his earlier statements to the police because he was so incoherent, inconsistent and uncertain. After the verdicts, the judge also gave Khalid a reward of five-hundred pounds for the value of his testimony. Another witness, Mr Samra, an Indian guy who also failed to hear anything Khalid claimed to have heard and who called the ambulance and administered first-aid to the stricken Paul Carr until it arrived, did not even get a mention from the judge.

The Verdicts and Sentences
The jury returned to court during their deliberations to ask to read statements again and to ask the judge if they could find one defendant guilty of manslaughter. The judge was very irritable with them. He admonished them because he had spent two days summing up. He then repeated the concept of culpability that informs the perverse law of Joint Enterprise which, in effect, means that murder convictions should be returned against anybody in the company of a killer. A concept that makes us all responsible for the deadly actions of others. My brother's keeper. 



Wooley was found guilty of murder, not surprisingly in view of his absurd defence, and he received a life sentence with an 18-year tariff. Jack was also found guilty of murder and received a life sentence with a tariff of 16-years. Stacey was acquitted.

Futile Appeals

Just after the trial, Jack received a bundle of documents by post. Labelled 'unused evidence', they were sent to him anonymously. They recorded the details about the Harrow fight confirming that Paul Carr's injuries, apart from the stab wounds, had not been inflicted that night. Jack started an immediate appeal with a new legal team. Dr Freddy Patel was approached and made the following statement:


"I concur with the serious concerns expressed by the defence counsel that crucial medical evidence of Dr W who had examined the deceased [in Harrow] a couple of days prior to his death was not disclosed at the original trial. An insight into the age of the injuries listed by Dr W could have significantly altered my opinions on the causation of these injuries. Therefore, at this late stage it is paramount in my view that the colour album of the postmortem photographs are reproduced for Dr W in the first instance to identify the older injuries and thereafter Dr R to prepare an expert report for the defence following which I can review my original opinions and give due consideration to any appropriate amendment in the light of new disclosures."  

Regardless of his medical incompetence, Freddy Patel was honest enough to appreciate the crucial nature of the unused evidence. Nevertheless, the appeal court rejected Jack's appeal because they said his defence knew about this evidence and chose not to use it! This is staggering. Jack did not know about this evidence but he knew full well that the jury thought he and Woolley had fought with Paul Carr. But that was not the case. Apart from his failed attempt to punch Jack and then Woolley's scuffle and stabbing, Paul Carr was not otherwise assaulted at that time.



It appears our appeal courts abide by the idea that if a barrister is negligent or incompetent, his client suffers the consequences, even a life sentence! Whether or not the defence teams actually knew about these Harrow injuries is uncertain. It was available in the case papers and that is all that is certain. We have not been able to ascertain the truth because the original legal team refuse to comment about the case. But many other cases of miscarriages have revealed how the police are very skilful at concealing evidence favouring the defence by mislabelling it.

A second appeal was launched by Edward Fitzgerald QC, who campaigns vigorously against Joint Enterprise convictions. But the result was the same. Once a jury finds somebody guilty, that verdict is set in concrete as far as the criminal justice system in the UK is concerned.

Why?    
The accounts given above are true and Jack's mother and sister, myself and his partner are devastated that Jack is suffering unjust imprisonment for a murder in which he took no part and could not possibly have predicted while his son grows up without a father. How could a jury convict Jack of murder in those circumstances?

The answer is that there is a political policy of the day that requires the state to appear to be tough on knife crime and on 'gangs', whatever that means. Any couple of friends or small group can now be described as a 'gang' and Joint Enterprise is being used on an everyday basis to convict innocent people, mostly young black guys, of murder whenever a fatality occurs in a common brawl. It has no relationship to justice or morality and it is being extended to many other sorts of crime as well. The police love Joint Enterprise and regularly advertise their intention to use it. Convictions are easily obtained because they do not have to prove any actual criminal behaviour. Judges are stretching the concept of culpability to such a degree that they can persuade juries to convict innocent parties in Joint Enterprise cases. Just being there is enough.

There is also a massive reluctance on the part of governments and the judiciary to accept the fact that the police often groom witnesses, fabricate evidence and commit wholesale perjury in the course of their everyday duties. The huge number of cases of known miscarriages, along with the many others never exposed, proves this point. The Cardiff Five case, the Stefan Kiszko case and the case of Gary Mills and Tony Poole best describe the culture of corruption and abuse endemic in our police CID forces.


The fact that Jack's jury convicted him but acquitted Stacey is also inconsistent with the evidence. If they believed Khalid then they should have convicted Stacey. If they didn't believe Khalid then they should have acquitted Jack. Stacey was lucky but as I discovered in other examples of Joint Enterprise cases, juries seem to acquit some defendants because they feel bad about convicting all the companions of the actual perpetrator.

       
The evidence of Dr Freddy Patel was very damaging but Khalid's was also critical regardless of its conflict with the testimony of other witnesses. The police saw Freddy Patel's report and wrongly concluded, as did the jury and everybody else, that Paul Carr had been in a fight outside The Boulevarde. They needed a witness to say there was such a fight because Mr Ngei's evidence did not record such a fight. I believe Khalid was primed by the police to make claims about what he saw and heard that night to create a fight that never happened but which made a Joint Enterprise case against Stacey and Jack. Khalid was scared of deportation or charges in relation to his illegal mini-cabbing and he was, therefore, putty in their hands. The cases of Sion Jenkins and Dudley and Maynard as well as the Cardiff Five shows clearly the way the police groom or blackmail witnesses. If you don't believe they do this, I can only say you are very naive.



I can tell you that almost all miscarriages are a result of police corruption of evidence and I invite you to examine the few cases I mention above on their websites or the many other cases mentioned on websites run by INNOCENT - JENGbA and JUSTICE. There is a link below to the JENGbA site:


What Next?
I have joined with an organisation called JENGbA (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association) in a public campaign to fight for justice for my son and the sons and brothers of the more than three hundred mostly young kids who have been inhumanly imprisoned because politicians want to look good in public on the law and order issue. I recommend that you check out the cases of Jordan Cunliffe, Nicola Faulds, Tirrell Davis, Jade Braithwaite and any of the many other cases where the state has used collective punishment to imprison innocent people.

Joint Enterprise is an evil law that is a menace to everybody and their children. If you go out with a friend and there is a fight, it doesn't matter that you do nothing criminal, you will be charged and convicted of murder if someone in your company kills. We must force the hypocrites who rule us to repeal this dreadful anti-social law.



"For evil to triumph it is necessary only for good men to do nothing."

(Edmund Burke)

Please support JENGbA and help to get justice for my son and many others like him. Write to your MP or contact the following e-mail address to offer moral support: andy@jackdempseyinjustice.co.uk - or use the link above.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

"Appeal court referral is a welcome boost for university Innocence Projects" (UK Guardian)


Dwaine George's case is the first to be referred by students from a university-based Innocence Project

good qu
The Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the case of Dwaine George to the court of appeal on Friday Photograph: Graham Turner
The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) referred the case of Dwaine George to the court of appeal on Friday. Daniel Dale died almost instantly as he ran away from a shooting in the Miles Platting area of Manchester in July 2001. George, then 18 years old, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder after a jury at Preston Crown Court found him guilty. He pleaded not guilty.
A few weeks ago George, now 29, was released from prison on life licence, having studied hard and been awarded a first class social sciences degree. "I have said from day one that it wasn't me. I know there are still huge hurdles ahead, but I want to prove my innocence," George says.
The notable feature of the referral is that it's the first time a case has been referred to the court of appeal on application made by a university-based Innocence Project. The first Innocence Project was started in the UK in 2005 and there are now some 27 projects based at universities in England and Wales.
George had appealed against his conviction in 2004 but the appeal was dismissed. The new referral is based on evidence relating to gunshot residue identified by students at Cardiff University Law School. The CCRC commissioned an expert analysis of the residue and the referral draws on the report. Cardiff University Law School Innocence Project has made "a very significant contribution to the case and to the referral of Mr George's convictions", the CCRC says.
George's case was one of six cases that students at Cardiff Law School investigated, overseen by its director Julie Price and consultant Dr Dennis Eady. "We worked on it for almost four years, then it was with the CCRC for a further three", writes Price. She adds that it is a time for "reflection rather than celebration."
"A young person was killed. That victim's family saw someone convicted and they are now faced with the news that the conviction is under the spotlight 12 years after the event. A wrongful conviction will mean that the real perpetrator may still be walking our streets."
Times moves at a glacial pace in the under-resourced and overly-complex world of criminal appeals, nonetheless it is a shock to learn that this is the first case to be referred through an application signed off by a university. There was the Simon Hall referral – although the work was largely done by Bristol University, the application was apparently made in the name of the solicitors' firm who advised them previously. And, of course, Hall confessed. That bombshell over the summer stunned many campaigners who viewed Hall as a flagship case for the movement and the first real prospect of getting a conviction overturned.
It led to some internal reflection within the university community – not least by Price who has been candid about her frustrations with the lack of progress in her Diary of an Innocence Project column. "I don't think that university innocence projects have even scratched the surface of the miscarriage of justice problem. Although they have played an important part in teaching our future lawyers about the iniquities of the criminal justice system," Price tells me. No one would doubt the commitment and energy of students working hard to investigate cases of those alleging to be victims of miscarriages who would otherwise have nowhere to turn. As David Robinson, legal advisor at the CCRC, reflected this month at the Innocence Network UK (INUK) conference, some 27 projects are investigating around 100 cases and "presumably dozens more" for those innocence projects who operate outside of INUK. The Cardiff project is not part of INUK.
But Robinson went on to reflect on "the mismatch" between the number of cases being investigated and the number of applications to the CCRC.
Since 2005, there has only been applications relating to 17 individual cases from a total five universities. There isn't much love lost between INUK and the CCRC. The conference was the first time the Commission had been invited since 2008 and INUK's founder Michael Naughton has consistently made the argument that the watchdog is no longer fit for purpose. Many of the concerns about the cash-strapped and overwhelmed CCRC are well-made, some aren't.
No doubt with that history in mind, David Robinson offered the INUK students "some sort of context" for their figures. Since 2005, 266 CCRC referrals have gone back to the courts – almost exactly half of the total number of cases referred by the Commission. "How many meritorious cases might there be out there in the hands of innocence projects and how many more referrals might we have been able to make if we had seen more applications from them?" Robinson asked the INUK delegates.
Price hopes that referral of George's case "will give a welcome boost to the morale of UK Innocence Projects at this time of crossroads and brick walls". One hopes so.