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News Round-Up Week Ending 22.5.15

(Posted on 22/05/15)


Convicted rapist to sue Scottish Government over “miscarriage of justice”.

After 12 years trying to overturn his rape conviction, Graham Gordon is to sue the Scottish Government for nearly £700,000 for “gross negligence” in the way his appeal has been handled.

Mr Gordon, a former golf professional jailed for five years in 2002, has always maintained his innocence.

Whilst admitting there may have been a miscarriage of justice, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) has refused to reopen or refer the case back to the Court of Appeal.

“If you asked someone on the street if they think a possible miscarriage of justice case should be heard in front of an appeals court they would say that of course it should,” Graham Gordon told the Aberdeen Press and Chronicle. “It’s common sense that if there is any possibility that justice hasn’t been served you look at it again. I have spent thousands in legal fees and clearing my name has basically become my full-time job. Basically, I want it to be shown that nobody is above the law, even the Scottish Government, and that my case needs to be heard with all the correct evidence in place.”

“These are ongoing legal proceedings and, as such, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” a Scottish Government spokeswoman responded.

Convicted murderer fails to get sentence reduced

Jordan Cunliffe, one of several youths jailed in 2008 for the brutal Warrington murder of Garry Newlove, has failed in his attempt to get a reduction in his 12-year minimum term, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Cunliffe’s mother Janet, a member of Jengba (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association) has campaigned for a revision of the law of joint enterprise, claiming that her son was neither responsible for the attack nor altogether a witness to it, being partially sighted.

Deepcut soldier’s family “close to justice”

A review into the death of a young soldier at Deepcut barracks opened on Tuesday. Four soldiers died from gunshot wounds at the Surrey barracks between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse. An inquest was ordered last year by the High Court after quashing the 1995 open verdict.

“Each of the young people who died at Deepcut deserves the dignity of their death being individually investigated,” said Des James, father of Private Cheryl James, shot dead during training aged 18. “After a two-decade battle, we’re finally close to gaining justice for Cheryl — but it’s a sad irony that our new Government is now intent on axing the Human Rights Act, without which we could never have got this far.”

“Cheryl’s family have had to fight every step of the way for answers about their daughter’s death - and thanks to the Human Rights Act, justice is finally within reach,” Emma Norton, lawyer for Liberty, representing the family, told The Courier. “Twenty years on from her death, her parents deserve answers - not the cruelty of further delays.”

Ms Norton also paid tribute to Private Benton’s mother Linda, who died last Friday:

“Linda remained determined to the end. She refused to accept that Sean had simply committed suicide. The rumours of bullying, abuse and the fundamental unanswered questions were too strong and too real to ignore."

Human Rights Act helps all sorts to get justice 

“As they press ahead with plans to abolish Britain's Human Rights Act, the Conservatives have sought to depict its main beneficiaries as villains,” Jack Sommers writes in the Huffington Post. “In its much-derided document outlining its plans to abolish the HRA, the party hinted that the current arrangement could see prisoners granted the right to vote over the government's objections and said the HRA empowered ‘foreign nationals who have committed very serious crimes... to justify remaining in the UK.’”

Sommers reminds us of the people who have won fights for justice thanks to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg and the Human Rights Act here in Britain: families of missing people; rape victims failed by the Police; gay people kicked out of the military; victims of human trafficking; the grieving families of dead soldiers; disabled people; and children.