News Roundup Week Ending 11 July 2014
By Charlotte Rowles on 11/07/14Share:
9 July 2014
Paul Britton reports for the Manchester Evening News on the case of Nadeem Aslam.
Man jailed for 13 years for rape cleared after judges told alleged victim lied.
Nadeem Aslam, 45, from Burnage, who spent more than three years in prison after being convicted of a string of sex attacks, has been freed.
A man who was found guilty and jailed for a string of rapes he denied has been cleared after judges ruled that his alleged victim lied.
Nadeem Aslam, 45, served more than three years of a 13-year sentence, but has now been cleared on appeal and freed after fresh evidence emerged.
Judges at London’s Criminal Appeal Court ruled the conviction was unsafe as a result and said there wouldn’t be a retrial.
Mr Aslam, from Kingsway, Burnage, denied the charges but was locked up after he was found guilty by a jury at Manchester Crown Court in December 2010 of a string of sex attacks.
The Appeal Court judges however found after a two-day hearing that his accuser had indicated that she was going to fabricate evidence against him and later told people after the trial that she had lied to the jury during her evidence.
The court heard that the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had asked one witness before the trial whether the jury would ‘feel sorry’ for her if she cried while giving her evidence over a video link.
The same witness also told the Appeal Court that the accuser had said: “If the jury feel sorry for me, will he get a prison sentence?
“If I cry, do I look in the camera when I cry?”
There was also ‘fresh evidence’ from a number of other witnesses, which indicated the woman had admitted making up her allegations against Mr Aslam, the judges were told.
Clearing Aslam after the hearing, Lord Justice Laws said the new evidence of one witness ‘strongly suggested’ that, before the start of the trial, the accuser was ‘at least contemplating’ that she might lie to the jury.
Sitting with Mr Justice Andrews and Judge Nicholas Cooke QC, Lord Justice Laws said the evidence from other witnesses proved that she told them that the accusations were false.
He added: “She was prepared, in the immediate aftermath of the appellant’s conviction, to tell these witnesses that she had made a false accusation: and that, in our judgment, is what their evidence proves.
“In view of our conclusions as to what the fresh evidence proves, we are bound to find that the appellant’s convictions are unsafe.
“The appeal is allowed.”
He confirmed there would be no retrial.
4 July 2014
Solicitor John McKenna reports on the impact of legal aid cuts for the Guardian.
Legal aid cuts are severing a lifeline for many poor families.
People should not be denied legal advice just because of their financial situation as it can lead to tragic circumstances, says Liverpool family law partner John McKenna.
The much-publicised legal aid cuts are being felt up and down the country, but nowhere more acutely than in areas like the Breckfield district of Liverpool, where our head office is based.
Frequently named one of the most deprived areas in the UK, Breckfield is no strangers to struggle. Its residents are used to fighting every day just to keep their heads above water and money is tight. Understandably, when legal issues arise finding the funds for adequate representation or advice is almost impossible. In such situations legal aid always provided a lifeline.
With the assistance dramatically cut many people in Breckfield and areas like it have lost the right to have legal representation when needed and, in turn, their right to be treated fairly.
Some of the most common – and indeed most heartrending – forms of litigation we deal with are custody battles and family disputes. These cases are always difficult for everyone involved and the need for sound legal advice is never more obvious than when children's livelihoods are at stake.
This is something that became all too clear recently when a custody dispute took a tragic turn. The case involved the care proceedings of two young children following a private law dispute between the parents who made allegations of abuse.
Following this, Residence Orders were made in favour of the father of the younger child and the grandmother of the older child. The mother was to have contact. We were instructed to represent one party and all parties were in receipt of legal aid at this time.
It soon became clear that this arrangement was not being followed and, as a result, the family appeared in court again. This time, following the implementation of legal aid restrictions, the parties were forced to represent themselves.
Sadly, a judgement was made which ultimately resulted in the mother taking her own and her young son's life. One could certainly argue that had legal aid still been available and legal representation been provided the outcome could have been different.
Whilst this is an extreme case, it is not an exaggeration to say families and children are being put at risk because legal advice is not available to them. Decisions are being made that may well have been very different if legal advice was available.
Following the economic meltdown this country has witnessed over the last few years one can understand the need for the government to make cuts but the current reforms target the vulnerable and, like many other in the legal industry, we believe they should be reconsidered.
People should not be denied legal advice just because of their financial situation. Justice is a fundamental right and without legal assistance too many people will be denied it.
John McKenna is a family law partner at Paul Crowley & Co
3 July 2014
IPCC Chair, Dame Anne Owers, said: "The majority of the 30,000 complaints made annually about the police are handled by the police service itself. This survey shows that too many people are still either unsure of how to make a complaint about the police or don’t believe their complaint will be dealt with fairly. It is particularly worrying that young people and those from ethnic minorities have lower confidence in the complaints system.
The 2014 Public Confidence Survey is the sixth in a series over the last ten years. It looks at public perceptions of the police, the complaints system, and the IPCC.
Other key findings from the survey include:
Steps set out under the IPCC’s plans for oversight & confidence and engagement plans, which are published today, are:
In January this year, the IPCC issued a draft oversight and confidence plan for public consultation, and received more than 100 responses from a range of stakeholders, including members of the public, police forces, Police and Crime Commissioners and voluntary sector organisations. Respondents provided useful feedback and raised a variety of views including that the IPCC should do more to speed up its handling of cases and to improve the quality of its work.
The IPCC conducted a series of pilot oversight projects in 2013/14 that examined in detail how forces are handing aspects of the complaints system, most recently an investigation into how forces handle allegations of discrimination. The reports identified significant failings in how forces handle complaints and can be found here.