Background

Inside Justice

Inside Justice is led by Louise Shorter who for 10 years was a producer/director of the BBC’s long-running miscarriage of justice TV series Rough Justice. The last programme she made about the wrongful convictions of Barri White and Keith Hyatt led directly to new evidence being found which resulted in their convictions being quashed. In 2013, Shahidul Ahmed, the real killer in this case was convicted following a cold-case review led by Inside Justice Advisory Panel member Tracy Alexander.

Inside Justice is a division of the not-for-profit newspaper Inside Time which has been a voice for prisoners since it was launched in 1990. At Inside Justice our core strength comes from our Advisory Panel of experts who come from a rich range of disciplines. The panel considers select cases put before them with a view to identifying new work and investigative strands. We have a budget to commission new forensic work on individual cases and strive to support and facilitate academic research on key issues affecting the criminal justice system.

Inside Justice works with the family and friends of a person who says s/he is entirely innocent of the crime they are imprisoned for and with their existing solicitors and legal representatives. We encourage and nurture collaboration with external organisations in the support of an individual’s pursuit of justice.

We aim to keep a spotlight on the subject of wrongful convictions which our experts believe are as likely to be created today as they were in the period readily associated with wrongful convictions of the 1970s and 80s.

We have acted as Consultants on various media projects for the BBC, ITV, Channel 5 and print coverage in the Mail on Sunday, Guardian, Women’s Weekly, local and national radio and many online sites. We have been brought in to fulfil TV production roles such as Producer, Director, Researcher on news items and documentaries and various members of our team and Advisory Panel have, representing Inside Justice, been interviewed on different media platforms commenting on criminal justice and miscarriage of justice affairs.

Changing the Law

Inside Justice is frequently approached by people who want us to help with cases where the core issue is about changing the law. The most frequent example of this is joint enterprise cases. In joint enterprise a person may be convicted of a crime even if they were not responsible personally for the decisive act. The most obvious example is where a group of youths are all convicted of murder even though it may only have been one person within the group who wielded the knife and caused the fatal wound. If it can be shown that all members of the group were a party to the activity and did nothing to discourage the attack, all may be charged. Another less emotive example might be burglary; if the man in the car outside the house being burgled knows what is being done inside the premises he too can be charged with burglary even though he didn’t actually enter the premises.

Inside Justice does not take individual cases on in order to challenge for a change in the law. Other organisations already campaign specifically on that point are better placed to assist.

We can only ever consider cases where the person in prison strongly states they are entirely innocent of being involved to any extent.

Disclosure of Evidence

One issue has become such a recurring theme in the course of our casework, we have taken it up as an issue. It is that of disclosure of evidence post conviction. Anybody with experience in the miscarriage of justice field will know how hard it can be to gain access to exhibits post conviction. Not only is permission required of the investigating force, who may not be motivated to facilitate the re-opening of a case they consider to closed, it is also a post-code lottery.

Law scales

In some of our cases we have successfully gained access to cartridge cases, swabs, the victim’s clothing, the defendant’s clothing, knives, tapings and extracts. In others access has been denied to everything including even the forensic file; the documents and notes made by trial scientists, even though the request came from the same scientist.

For many years decisions have been made on a piecemeal basis. High profile cases would not have been won if access had been denied post-conviction. Sean Hodgson, who served 27 years for a murder he did not commit, would never have had his conviction quashed if it had not been for the determination of his legal firm (engaged after seeing an advertisement in Inside Time) and the co-operation of the investigating force to release the exhibits.

This issue is so important to all miscarriage of justice cases we have got involved with the case of Kevin Nunn which will address this very issue at the Supreme Court in 2014. Kevin Nunn was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend. There was scant evidence against him and certainly no forensic evidence despite this being a forensically-rich crime. Suffolk Constabulary refused Kevin Nunn access to crime scene exhibits wanted for re-testing, including sperm heads found on the victim’s body which he was particularly interested in as a vasectomised male.

Kevin Nunn’s application to Divisional Court was refused. This, potentially, has massive implications for all in the criminal justice system as Nunn applies not only to physical exhibits and forensic records but to all information and documentation held by state agencies such as police custody records, interviews, statements, medical notes etc.

Inside Justice was approached by Kevin Nunn and asked to help find a new legal team to appeal the decision at the Supreme Court, which we duly did. Inside Justice continues to assist with background information such as examples of wrongful convictions which would never have been quashed if evidence had not been disclosed post-conviction. A member of our Advisory Panel is leading the scientific review of this case, preparing evidence for the Supreme Court hearing.

If such time comes that exhibits are made available, if Legal Aid cuts result in funding being denied for new scientific test, Inside Justice hopes to be able to commission new work on behalf of Kevin Nunn.