Miscarriage of justice watchdog reckons ‘very high’ probability of people in jail as a result of non-disclosure

The miscarriage of justice watchdog has said that there is a ‘very high’ probability of people being in jail because of non-disclosure failures. In an interview with the Times, Richard Foster, chairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, reckoned that that one in five suspected miscarriages referred back to Court of involved disclosure issues and that amounted to hundreds of cases over the years.

‘I don’t know for certain but I do know we have cases before the courts partly or wholly on grounds of non-disclosure and our statistics show that two in three of those are quashed,’ Foster said. ‘So the statistical probability [that innocent people are in jail] is very high indeed.’

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the previous lord chief justice, told The Times that police chiefs should be held accountable for failures to disclose evidence and that their responsibility for was “probably greater” than that of the director of public prosecutions.

The CCRC alerted the attorney-general, the director of public prosecutions and police chiefs to concerns in July 2016, warning of ‘numerous instances of the police failing to disclose information’.

Meanwhile, the BBC along with the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, the Criminal Bar Association and the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association has called on defence lawyers to contact them with disclosure concerns. According to a new survey: ‘It may be that the police have refused to give adequate disclosure for the purposes of advising prior to interview; the IDPC (Initial Details of the Prosecution Case) provided for the first hearing contains inadequate or no witness statements; there is no MG6C (disclosure form) provided for trial; disclosure ordered by the court has still not been provided despite the expiry of time given; trials or hearings have been delayed or adjourned because of late, inadequate or no disclosure given to the defence.’ More here.

About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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