“I understand that as part of their ‘Justice Season’ BBC4 ran a programme called ‘Retrial by TV: The Rise and Fall of Rough Justice’ we don’t get this station in Full Sutton unfortunately but I have been told about the programme and read some reviews on it. At the end of the programme what became clear was that there is now room for another ‘Rough Justice’ style of programme.
Although the CCRC carry out these types of investigations, their work and the processes they apply to claims of wrongful convictions is never made public, even though it is public money which is used to fund these investigations. It is also unfortunate that the CCRC is underfunded and as result many people have to wait for several years for their case to be fully reviewed by the Commissioners. Although the CCRC does carry out valuable work by way of testing the validity of a claim of innocence before it gets to the appeal court. I am hoping that an independent T.V station will pick up the ‘Rough Justice’ baton and push ahead with uncovering cases that perhaps the CCRC might have overlooked.
The problem for many prisoners claiming miscarriages of justice is that they are often clueless as to where to start looking for evidence, they are unaware of legal processes or their own rights in terms of what can and cannot be released to them. It is often very difficult for these prisoners to get legal representation as legal aid is not available until there is a referral from the CCRC to the appeal court. Often this means needing the time, money and expertise to carry out work on the evidence. Whether this is done in the prisoner’s cell or done using campaigners and forensics experts on the outside, this can prove extremely difficult. During the first few years of my prison life I was absolutely clueless as to what to do about my wrongful conviction, many, many lawyers and forensics company’s would not even respond to my letters and I felt hopelessness and despair.
Raising public awareness of the individuals cause is paramount to those who will wait for many years before getting the vital help they need to build a strong enough case for the courts. The work of the ‘Innocence Project’ by the University of Cardiff is just one example of how outsiders can help those wrongly convicted but there needs to be more of this and an affiliation of those types of campaigners all working in the same direction. Sadly, I believe that we are almost right back where we started because at present the public have no idea that there are so many wrongful convictions in the UK and tax payers put their faith in the judicial system as a whole which is largely flawed.
As for my case news, I have also discovered from documents and photographs that show after the police broke down the back door at White House Farm they employed a carpenter to come and replace the whole door during the time the police were carrying out forensic examination of the house. I cannot help but feel further shock that not only were 43 officers present and during training exercises using my dead family in situ, but the carpenters were traipsing around the downstairs replacing a door. As ‘The rise and fall of Rough Justice’ showed (which included testimony from retired Police Chief’s,) the 1980’s was a time when policing was at its very worst.”