22 October 2012
Members of the University of Bristol Innocence Project (from left to right: Dr Michael Naughton, Mark Allum and Ryan Jendoubi) with their 2012 Bristol Law Society Pro Bono Award
We are thrilled to have received this award. ... It is an honour for our work to have been recognised in this way.
The award, which recognises ‘excellence’ in pro bono work, was presented to UoBIP members for their work on the case of Wullie Beck, who was arrested in 1981 for an armed robbery of a post van. Mr Beck served six years of imprisonment for his conviction based exclusively on eyewitness identification.
After taking on the case in 2011 under the guidance of Dr Michael Naughton and Gabe Tan, postgraduate law students Mark Allum and Ryan Jendoubi undertook detailed research into Mr Beck’s case and made two submissions to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. They contended that a combination of factors rendered a real likelihood of a miscarriage of justice in Mr Beck’s case. In addition to the ‘flimsy nature’ of the eyewitness identification evidence that underpinned his conviction, they argued that the judge had made several serious errors in the way in which he had directed the jury.
Thanks to the work of the UoBIP, who spent an estimated 2,000 hours on Mr Beck’s case, it has now been referred back to the High Court of Justiciary after the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed his conviction may be unsafe.
Dr Michael Naughton at the University of Bristol Law School and School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, said: “We are thrilled to have received this award. Not only is this testament to the team’s tireless commitment to Mr Beck’s case but also to the calibre of their research and submissions to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission [SCCRC]. There has been 1,500 cases applied to the SCCRC and only about 100 cases have been referred. It is an honour for our work to have been recognised in this way.”
The ADRg-sponsored award was one of several awarded to legal professionals commended for excellence by members of Bristol Law Society, one of the country’s largest and oldest law societies in the country. The event took place at the Bristol Law Society Annual Awards Dinner on the 18 October at the Bristol City Marriot Hotel.