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 campaigning 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 closed, it is also a postcode 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.

Inside Justice was involved in the case of Kevin Nunn, which 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.

Kevin Nunn’s case was taken to the Supreme Court which led to a Judgment which should be read by any individual who seeks to obtain access to exhibits post-conviction.