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News Round-Up Week Ending 12.6.15

(Posted on 12/06/15)


Hallam and Nealon Lose High Court Actions.

Lord Justice Burnett has ruled that the law "does not require the applicant for compensation to prove his innocence. It is the link between the new fact and the applicant's innocence of which the Secretary of State must be satisfied before he is required to pay compensation under the 1988 Act, not his innocence in a wider or general sense."

The judge ruled that new evidence did not prove that Sam Hallam could not have been at the scene of the crime, as would have been the case if he had been in a different country or city, which would have established he did not commit the crime.

The statutory compensation scheme "maintains the presumption of innocence, which is not impugned, but provides compensation if the Secretary of State is satisfied that the new fact conclusively proves innocence".

"The refusal of compensation on the basis the statutory criteria are not established does not carry with it the implication that the person concerned is, in fact, guilty."

Kevin Lane Appeal Heard

“Two men were named in the court of appeal on Wednesday as the likeliest suspects for a contract killing for which another man has served 20 years in prison,” Duncan Campbell writes in the Guardian. “The court also heard that a corrupt detective played a major part in the conviction of Kevin Lane, who was jailed for life at the Old Bailey in 1996 for the murder of Robert Magill.”

Lane, released from prison in January, was in court for the hearing but was not asked to give evidence.

Joel Bennathan QC for Lane told Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice William Davis and Judge Inman QC that, whilst some appeals contained evidence of police corruption and others indicated the likely perpetrators, “this application has both these elements”.

DI Christopher Spackman, of Hertfordshire Police, jailed for four years in 2003 for conspiracy to steal £160,000 and misconduct in a public office, was claimed to have forged documents and witness statements, been involved in cannabis cultivation and to have held “off the record” meetings with Roger Vincent, cleared of the murder. Spackman also falsely told the original trial that some witnesses were untraceable.

Mr Bennathan told the court that Roger Vincent and Dave Smith, jailed for life in 2005 for the contract killing of Dave King, a drug dealer, were the likely killers of Magill.

“Both men were full-time criminals – they were like brothers,” said Bennathan. “We say that they were professionally close and the profession was criminal ... [King’s death] was a crude but effective killing”, with many similarities to the murder of Magill. There was a “compelling picture” that Smith and Vincent had also carried out the Magill murder, acting as a two-man team: “one drove, one shot”. 

Judgment was reserved. Spackman has previously denied any impropriety in the case and Vincent and Smith have denied the Magill shooting.

Miscarriages of Justice will Follow Cuts

The Government is to press ahead with a further 8.75 per cent reduction in solicitors’ fees under legal aid, despite opponents’ claims that cuts have already led to redundancies and closure of small legal firms.

“We still have a generous system compared to other countries,” justice minister Shailesh Vara said. “The continuing need to reduce the deficit means we must make further progress.”

“Solicitors won’t be able to do a job as well as they were previously,” Jonathan Black, president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, explained. “They will cut corners and miscarriages of justice will happen.

“There is no further fat to be cut, let alone meat or skin – we are cutting deep into the bone."

“We are deeply concerned not only for the immediate future of the justice system, but for its continued survival in years to come,” added Andrew Caplen, Law Society president. “The administration of justice is a fundamental duty of government and access to justice is an essential part of that responsibility.

“The British value of a fair trial, enshrined in 800 years of Magna Carta, has been built on the foundation that the innocent are acquitted and convictions are sound.”

The Ministry of Justice has, however, abandoned plans for a £10m cut in legal aid paid to barristers, to “protect the high standard of advocacy which is a hallmark of our justice system”, Mr Vara said.

“DPP should reconsider her position”

Stacey Hyde, cleared at a retrial last month of the murder of Vincent Francis when she was 17, has criticised the Director of Public Prosecutions for not doing her job properly.

Ms Hyde now intends to help campaign group Justice for Women, which supported her.

“I made a promise to God, to my friends in jail that if I ever got out, I would do whatever it took to help them because girls get released from jail and make false promises and then they just leave jail behind them and I can't do that to my friends who are innocent, fighting to get out in a system that is so difficult to be free from.

“So I am going to do my best to help Justice for Women for anybody in any way I can.”

“Following a successful appeal by the defence against Stacey Hyde's original conviction for murder, the Court of Appeal were invited, by the defence, to substitute the conviction for one of manslaughter,” the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement. “They declined to do so, stating that a life had been taken, and ordered a re-trial for murder. The evidence was reconsidered by the CPS and a decision was made that under the code for Crown prosecutors a prosecution for murder was still appropriate.

“The matter was once more tried before a jury, who has acquitted Ms Hyde of the offence. We respect the jury's decision in this case.”