Press Information. March 2016
25 years since Birmingham Six release
It’s even harder for innocent prisoners now
Campaigners who worked for the release and exoneration of the Birmingham Six say it’s even harder in 2016 for wrongly convicted persons to achieve justice.
■ Swingeing legal aid cuts mean many innocent prisoners can’t find a lawyer to represent them.
■ The Criminal Cases Review Commission set up in the wake of the Birmingham Six case is seriously underfunded hampering its ability to probe cases thoroughly and promptly. Applicants in more complex cases often wait years for a CCRC decision.
■ Non-disclosure of evidence continues to be a significant factor in miscarriage of justice cases with no sanctions applied to those responsible for withholding such material.
■ The Court of Appeal is even more hostile towards persons claiming innocence than in 1991 leading to the CCRC’s excessively timid approach when deciding whether to refer convictions
Among prisoners awaiting a CCRC decision is former nurse Colin Norris wrongly convicted of murdering elderly hospital patients with insulin. Compelling evidence pointing to his innocence has now been under investigation by the CCRC for more than four years.
Paul May chaired the London-based campaign for the Birmingham Six. He says
By 1991, Granada TV had spent £2m investigating and reporting on the evidence in the Birmingham Six case. That’s £3m in today’s values – more than half the CCRC’s entire annual budget. It’s inconceivable that any media organisation could afford such an investigation today. In the 25 years since the men’s release, next to nothing has been done to address the reasons why miscarriages of justice happen in the first place. As a result, innocent men and women such as Colin Norris continue to languish in Britain’s prisons.
Breda Power daughter of Billy Power was Secretary of the campaign. She says
It’s really frightening for anyone serving a sentence for something they haven't done today as it’s increasingly likely that justice simply won’t be available to them. /ends
Note to editors
Paul May chaired the London Birmingham Six Campaign between 1985 and 1991, He subsequently chaired campaigns for Judith Ward, the Bridgewater Four, the East Ham Two and Danny McNamee as well as lesser-known innocent prisoners. He represented Sam Hallam in his CCRC application as well as chairing his support group from 2006 until his 2012 release. He currently represents Colin Norris in his CCRC application.
Breda Power was eight years old when her innocent father was arrested as one of the Birmingham Six. She was secretary of the London Birmingham Six Campaign and the Judith Ward Committee. She has been actively involved in campaigning for many other innocent prisoners including Sam Hallam and Colin Norris. She currently works as London Prisons Case Manager for a prison welfare charity.
The campaign for Colin Norris was formally launched at a central London event marking publication of A Jury Blinded by Science: the Case of Colin Norris. The reception brought together Colin’s family, friends, lawyers, scientists, writers, former prisoners and campaigners. Colin’s mother June Morrison spoke movingly of the effect wrongful imprisonment has had on her innocent son.
The booklet’s publication attracted significant media interest (see media page). Thanks to all who made the event a success.
Among those attending the launch was Patrick Maguire (pictured left) who was wrongly imprisoned aged just 13 as one of the Maguire Seven for crimes which never happened on the basis of erroneous scientific evidence.