Demand access to the evidence that will prove that innocent people are in prison in this country, and help to set them free
Anyone can say they would never commit a crime,
but can any of us can say we won’t be
falsely accused of one
– or convicted?
Innocent people are being sent to prison in this country and the appeals system is not getting them out – and the same sort of mistakes are being repeated again and again.
Police and prosecutors are routinely withholding crucial material, which means innocent people end up in prison while the guilty walk free.
Whether this is deliberate or inadvertent, this is not a new problem, but it is getting worse. Juries are being misled and innocent people are paying the price for this.
British justice is meant to be the best in the world and yet we are lagging behind systems in other countries when it comes to transparency and accountability.
Hidden in evidence boxes all around the country are the keys to the freedom of people behind bars who should not be there. These keys will also unlock the door to effective legal reform.
We want to change the broken disclosure law to get justice for the innocent prisoners we represent and their families, and ensure that anyone accused of a crime they did not commit has access to the evidence that they need to defend themselves.
We are working with people who have been wrongly accused and convicted and as well as lawyers, law makers, police officers and victims of crime, because everyone suffers when the system gets it wrong.
WE CAN DO BETTER
In America, access to material held by the police and prosecution has meant hundreds of innocent people have had their convictions overturned, through new forensic testing, and the discovery of leads to other suspects that were hidden at the original trial. Shows like Making a Murderer and Serial have laid the American criminal justice system’s flaws bare for all to see.
In Louisiana alone, 89% of the exonerations since 1990 have been the result of lawyers gaining access to previously withheld material after the trial, and using it to prove prisoners' innocence.
But under current British law, it is nearly impossible to access such evidence after the trial; leaving people unable to appeal their wrongful convictions.
And austerity measures means that at the trial stage more evidence is being hidden or overlooked now than ever before as funding for the police and the CPS is cut.
Too many people accused or convicted of crimes in Britain are simply not shown the information that they need to defend themselves against accusations, or to get mistakes fixed, as show by the case of Liam Allan, whose trial came to a halt when evidence in the police file exonerating him was serendipitously disclosed by a conscientious prosecuting barrister.
We have a Court of Appeal, but it is being forced to decide the cases on the basis of only a fraction of the relevant evidence.
And Parliament can’t fix the problem with a new law if it doesn’t know about it.
WHY IT MATTERS
The human cost of these mistakes on prisoners and their families is devastating. Imagine being in prison for a crime you did not commit and having to listen down a phone line to your family struggling to live on without you - not being able to watch your son become a football champ, or help your first grandchild learn to walk, or hug your sisters at your mother's funeral.
Imagine getting out of prison and having to face the world again - but still no justice.
WHAT WE WANT
We are the only non-profit law practice in this country that is focused solely on fighting miscarriages of justice.
We are working to challenge this broken law to get justice for the prisoners we represent and their families and ensure that anyone accused of a crime they did not commit has access to the evidence that they need to defend themselves.
We are demanding access to the evidence so that trials and appeals in this country can deliver true justice, and the system as a whole can learn from its mistakes.
Our work in this area includes:
1. Strategic litigation aimed at challenging the current restrictions on access to the evidence.
2. A national awareness initiative to bring the issue to the attention of the public and lawmakers, including sitting down at the table with people on all sides of these issues to craft the new legal framework for disclosure of evidence, "Liam's Laws."