15 October 2009
new forensic evidence ... raises the real possibility that the court would quash the murder conviction
The University of Bristol Innocence Project is the first innocence project in the UK that sees students working on cases of prisoners maintaining innocence under the supervision of Dr Michael Naughton and with pro bono legal assistance, and Simon's referral is the first for an innocence project case in the UK.
Although Simon's conviction has not yet been overturned, Simon and all concerned are cautiously optimistic, especially with the low referral rate by the CCRC (currently less than 4% of a thousand applications a year are referred back to the appeal courts) and relatively high 'success' rate of referred cases (over 70% of cases referred are overturned).
Please contact Dr Michael Naughton for further information.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice. There are 11 Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments Code of Practice. The Commission receives around 1,000 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Typically, around 4%, or one in 25, of all applications are referred to the appeal courts. The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal. Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are "exceptional circumstances". If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair. The University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP) , the first dedicated Innocence Project in the UK, is an extra-curricula pro bono legal clinic which teaches law through working on real cases of prisoners maintaining innocence. Established in January 2005 by Dr Michael Naughton, the UoBIP, which is also the founding member of the Innocence Network UK (INUK), is a collaborative venture of undergraduate and postgraduate law students working under academic supervision and guidance, where appropriate, from pro bono criminal lawyers, forensic scientists, and others.