Westminster Commission on Miscarriages of Justice

The Westminster Commission on Miscarriages of Justice has been established by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Miscarriages of Justice (APPGMJ)  with a brief to investigate the ability of the criminal justice system to identify and rectify miscarriages of justice.

The Westminster Commission on Miscarriages of Justice is co-chaired by two members of the APPPGMJ: Baroness Stern and Lord Garnier QC.

Baroness-Stern              L Garnier

Baroness Stern CBE is a cross-bench member of the House of Lords and President of the Association of Members of Independent Monitoring Boards. Formerly the Solicitor General, the Rt Hon. the Lord Garnier QC is a Conservative Member of the House of Lords and practicing Barrister.  

Joining Baroness Stern and Lord Garnier as members of the Commission are Dame Anne Owers, National Chair of Independent Monitoring Boards and former Chief Inspector of Prisons; Michelle Nelson QC, Barrister at Red Lion Chambers; Dr Philip Joseph, Forensic Psychology Consultant; and Erwin James, Editor-in-Chief, Inside Time.

 

Scope of the Inquiry – Call for Written Evidence

Given that there are serious misgivings expressed in the legal profession, and amongst commentators and academics, about the remit of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) and its ability to deal with cases of miscarriages of justice, and given that perceptions of injustice within the criminal justice system are as damaging to public confidence as actual cases of injustice, the Commission will inquire into:

  1. The ability of the CCRC, as currently set up, to deal effectively with alleged miscarriages of justice;
  2. Whether statutory or other changes might be needed to assist the CCRC to carry out is function, including;

(i) The CCRC’s relationship with the Court of Appeal with particular reference to the current test for referring cases to it (the ‘real possibility’ test);

(ii) The remit, composition, structure and funding of the CCRC;

  1. The extent to which the CCRC’s role is hampered by failings or issues elsewhere in the criminal justice system;

and make recommendations.

 

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to alex@appeal.org.uk as a single document in Word format (doc, docx, rtf, txt ooxml or odt format, not PDF) or posted to APPEAL, The Green House, 244-254 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9DA. Please include as few logos or embedded pictures as possible.

Submissions should:

  • State clearly who the submission is from;
  • Include an executive summary – setting out in bullet points the main points of your submission;
  • Include a brief introduction about yourself/your organisation and your reason for submitting evidence;
  • Use numbered paragraphs;
  • Be concise – no more than 3,000 words in length;
  • Include any recommendations for action by the Government or others which you would like the Commission to consider.

You should be careful not to comment on matters currently before a Court in the UK or matters in respect of which Court proceedings are imminent, where such comment could prejudice these matters or constitute contempt of court. Moreover, submissions should not include any potentially libellous or defamatory material. The Commission reserves the right to redact or anonymise such material before publication.

Please note, the Commission’s intention is for submissions to be published online.

If you do not wish your submissions to be published, you must clearly say so and explain your reasons for not wishing its disclosure.  This will be considered by the Commission when they decide whether to publish.  If you wish to include private or confidential information within your submissions, please contact the Commission Secretariat to discuss this.

The Commission is not obliged to accept your submission as evidence, nor to publish any or all of the submission even if it has been accepted as evidence.

If you have difficulty making a written submission by email or post and wish to submit evidence in an alternative format such as an audio file, or have any other questions about submitting evidence, please contact alex@appeal.org.uk.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 2 September 2019.

 

Questionnaire

For those who have direct experience of applying to the CCRC, either to appeal their own case or on behalf of a family member, we would encourage you to please fill our questionnaire. You can do this online here. Alternatively, a PDF of the questionnaire with the terms of reference of the inquiry is available here.

If you require any further information, please contact the Clerk to the Westminster Commission at alex@appeal.org.uk.

 

Evidence Sessions

The Westminster Commission on Miscarriages of Justice held its first session on 15 July 2019 in the House of Lords. The panel heard evidence from Helen Pitcher, Chair of the CCRC, and Karen Kneller, Chief Executive of the CCRC. The transcript of the first session is available here.

The second evidence session was held on 24 July. The Commission heard from Gerard Sinclair and Chris Reddick, representing the Scottish CCRC, and experienced criminal barristers Michael Birnbaum QC, Henry Blaxland QC, and Kirsty Brimelow QC. The transcript of the Scottish CCRC’s evidence is available here. The barristers’ evidence is available here.

The third and fourth sessions are scheduled for 3 September and 9 September.

The record of the second session has been made available with the help of JUST: Transcription, a product of JUST: Access Ltd, a not-for-profit social enterprise that harnesses technology to overcome barriers to justice.  To find out more, please visit www.just-transcription.com or contact the team at hello@just-transcription.com. Many thanks to JUST: Access for their kind assistance.

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