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News Round-Up Week Ending 15.5.15

(Posted on 14/05/15)

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News Round-Up Week Ending 15.5.15

Police Block Challenge to Murder Conviction.

Suffolk Police continue to refuse access to forensic samples from the 2005 killing of Dawn Walker, which Kevin Nunn’s supporters claim could exonerate him and identify the real killer.

Writing in the Expert Witness Institute’s newsletter, Inside Justice’s Louise Shorter describes the wealth of forensic possibilities in the case that went untested.

The police determined samples should be preserved in case of scientific developments. With the advent of new, more sophisticated DNA profiling and 325 exonerations in the US, Ms Shorter argues that the time to release those samples has come.

“There is a very high probability that re-examination of the material in this case will produce new evidence,” Rosalyn Hammond, one of the Stephen Lawrence scientific team, has said. “There are many reasons why useful results may be obtained now where they were not previously.”

NCA 'ignorant' and 'ill-informed' 

High Court judge Mr Justice Hickinbottom has branded the National Crime Agency “incompetent” and “systematically flawed” after officers in a money laundering investigation unlawfully used search warrants to plant a surveillance device without warning magistrates.

According to the Independent, the judge said the NCA had “acted with patent and egregious disregard for, or indifference to, the constitutional safeguards”, in arresting Satish Chatwani, Director of Ruislip-based Fairview Hotels and Healthcare, two of his brothers and two business associates.

The NCA’s legal team argued that the agency had been “driven by the ingenuity of criminals… to employ unconventional and unexpected policing methods”.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom found the search warrants to be unlawful yet the five men remain on police bail. 

“We have received a copy of the judgement and are now considering its implications,” said Graham Gardner, NCA Deputy Director of Investigations. “We take this matter extremely seriously and where there are lessons to be learned we will learn them.”

Prison Failures Contributed to Simon Hall’s Suicide

An inquest has found that failings in the prison service contributed to the death Simon Hall, who protested his innocence for 11 years before admitting killing pensioner Joan Albert in 2001.

Hall was found unresponsive in his cell at HMP Wayland, near Thetford, in February of last year, some months after his confession. He had previously claimed to be the victim of a miscarriage of justice. His family had conducted a high-profile campaign locally, with the backing of MPs BBC's Rough Justice.

Hall had submitted a second application to the CCRC which was accepted in February 2012.

Reports had said Hall was at “high risk of suicide, harm and absconding” and doctors were unsurprised at his death. He had attempted suicide twice the previous year.

Gove: 'Bring Back Hanging'

The Huffington Post reminds us that the new Justice Secretary once advocated bringing back hanging.

Writing as a Times columnist in the 90s, Michael Gove said he would return the noose out of respect for democracy.

"Hanging may seem barbarous, but the greater barbarity lies in the slow abandonment of our common law traditions,” he wrote. "Were I ever alone in the dock I would not want to be arraigned before our flawed tribunals, knowing my freedom could be forfeit as a result of political pressures. I would prefer a fair trial, under the shadow of the noose."

Gove argued that abolishing the death penalty "has led to a corruption of our criminal justice system, the erosion of all our freedoms and has made the punishment of the innocent more likely." 

Gove has not not repeated his call to re-establish capital punishment.