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Round Up

(Posted on 09/05/18)


Met Reviews Forensic Convictions:

Following the suspension of a forensic scientist, the Metropolitan Police is urgently reviewing 33 cases, involving rapes and serious crimes from 2012-17, to ensure the safety of convictions.

The Scotland Yard scientist is alleged to have “failed in carrying out tests and to have wrongly informed investigators about how her work was progressing”.

“We are urgently conducting a review to understand whether there is any risk to the criminal justice process and to take remedial action where necessary,” the Met commented.  “All victims in the affected cases have been contacted, where it has been deemed appropriate to do so.”

The matter has been referred to the Forensic Science Regulator and the Crown Prosecution Service is assessing the significance of forensic evidence in securing convictions.

“It is imperative that all staff working in forensic science understand the importance and impact of their work in the criminal justice system, the importance of quality standards and the provision of robust science,” regulator Gillian Tully responded. “There is a robust system of regular checks and quality systems in place to reduce the risk of malpractice and, if it does occur, ensure it is detected and dealt with.”

Hallam & Nealon at Supreme Court

Sam Hallam served seven years for murder and Victor Nealon seventeen for attempted rape. Although both convictions were long since quashed by the Court of Appeal, neither man has received any apology or recompense, Owen Bowcott wrote this week in the Guardian.

On Wednesday, Heather Williams QC challenged the new statutory definition of a “miscarriage of justice” added to the compensation scheme under the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act in 2014, which requires proof of innocence “beyond reasonable doubt”.

“If it had been enacted at the time, it would have precluded statutory compensation being paid by the state in the vast majority of the most notorious cases where wrongful convictions were set aside after lengthy periods of imprisonment,” Williams said, claiming the legal definition is contrary to the presumption of innocence enshrined in article six of the European convention on human rights, which guarantees the right to a fair trial.

In written submissions, the campaign organisation Justice said: “Upon release, victims of miscarriage of justice still receive just £46 and a travel warrant. There is no automatic accommodation, social security assistance or psychiatric assessment available to them.

“Justice is not aware of any cases where an explanation or apology for the wrongful conviction has been given to a victim of a miscarriage of justice.”

"This week’s case is not just about compensation or reversing a mean-spirited piece of legislation,"Justice's Jon Robins added. "It goes to the heart of the integrity of our justice system, its reluctance to acknowledge its fallibility – and its failure to deal with the victims of miscarriages of justice fairly and humanely. Let’s hope the supreme court does the decent thing."

The hearing continues. Judgment is expected to be reserved.