Showing posts from July, 2012

Susan May: Innocent as charged?

(Originally published in the Big Issue in the North)

Susan May vividly recalls the spring morning she went to check on her elderly aunt. “I went into the cake shop and bought auntie something for her lunch. When I got to the house I went in through the back door as normal and walked towards the door leading to her bedroom. The door was slightly ajar so I pushed it open and…” She stops, her lips quivering and tears fill her eyes, for the scene that met her upon entering the downstairs bedroom nearly 20 years ago was so horrific, she can still find no adequate way to describe its impact.
Her aunt, Hilda Marchbank, had been savagely murdered. The bedroom, usually so pristine, was now a chaotic mess and the bloody body lay sprawled on the bed, semi-naked and battered. May remembers little of the immediate aftermath to the discovery. "I just remember looking down over her body", she says, "to this day I don't remember how I exited that house."
Weeks later May was ch…

Miscarriages of justice: 'a bit 80s'?

(Originally published by The Guardian and The Justice Gap)

When the investigative journalist David Jessel heard in 1999 that Channel 4’s Trial and Error would be axed on the grounds that miscarriages of justice ‘are a bit 80s’, he wasn’t the only one to feel dismayed. The programme’s demise, along with that of Rough Justice, left a huge gap in the investigation and coverage of potentially wrongful convictions which arguably has never been filled.

Last week David Jessel joined an impressive panel of experts, lawyers and journalists at Manchester’s BPP law school, to take part in a public debate aimed at reigniting an interest in the failings of our criminal justice system.

Hosted by, the debate was prompted by the collection of essays – Wrongly Accused: who is responsible for miscarriages of justice? –

One of the main focuses of the night was to discuss whether the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the independent body set up in 1997 to refer potential misc…