Friday, 16 December 2011

XMAS MESSAGE FOR ALL JENGbA FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS

Dear Families & Supporters of JENGbA

Just to let you know the December Newsletter and Xmas cards are going to be put in the post today. Thank you Sadif (Qhuram Awan's sister) for taking up mantle of last minute printing and then next day delivery to me which the lovely postman just delivered!  And Bernie Morrison (Kenneth Alexander supporter and my sister) who also managed to print off 100.  Thank you Patricia (Tirrel's Davis's mum) who is sitting in my kitchen as I type  hand writing 270 cards to all the JENGbA gals and guys inside. And thanks to Andy (Jack Dempsey's dad) who happened to have 300 Xmas cards in his loft (and they are lovely charity ones!)  and delievered them here the other night. 

We are very lucky that we have such great families that will pull together in support of JENGbA.  I have been trying to fund raise from 'outside' sources and any success in those endeavours will be shared with everyone.  I am confident we will get support because the campaign has achieved so much in such a short space of time.  However JENGbA is now officially out of funds!  The newsletter costs £94 alone in postage (that is to 270 but the number rises every month) and does not include printing as families such as Sadif, Deb Madden's, mine and the Braithewaites have helped. 

This is the wrong time of year to ask families, already streched with a loved one inside prison for money - however is there a right time?  Lots of people give up their time because we all know how important this campaign is to those inside.  Can everyone please donate at least £10 which will cover the postage costs to loved ones and others who have no supporters.  This is not a lot in the great scheme of things but it will keep us going.  And please, please can families fund raise as well!  Hold a JENGbA quiz night - contact loaded friends you may have - do a sponsered something or other -  anything because it also gets our message out there.  We are all in this together so let's join together and make 2012 the most challenging yet!!  Joint Enterprise is finally on the radar and we have to take the credit for that - now it is about the kind of noise that resulted in the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four being released from prison.  That is what 2012 means for JENGbA and that will only come about if we ALL fight for it.

Gloria Morrison
JENGbA All the Way!!


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Monday, 12 December 2011

JENGbA PRESS RELEASE: Fresh Evidence? Not in this Court!

Sheffield men denied retrial despite having evidence that could clear them
10 December 2011
Nigel Junior Ramsey, Denzil Ramsey, Levan Menzies and Michael Chattoo were convicted on 7 August 2009 of the murder of Tarek Chaiboub, who was killed when a sawn off shotgun was discharged at him in broad daylight on Spital Hill, Sheffield, on 11 July 2008.
Although Nigel Ramsey was in prison at the time, he was said to have ordered the killing using a mobile phone that had been smuggled in to him. There was no evidence to prove that any of the four had pulled the trigger, so all were linked to the killing through use of the joint enterprise law.
The four were said to be members of an ‘S3 postcode’ gang. They were alleged to be also responsible for a previous assault on Chaiboub carried out on 6 July, to which another defendant, Javan Galloway, pleaded guilty.
The four charged with murder were put on trial first, and two other individuals, Daud Ahmed and Abdi Rahman Ali, who were alleged to have assisted Denzil Ramsey with disposing of the weapon, were charged with perverting the course of justice and tried separately after the four were convicted.
A shotgun found hidden nearby in Osgathorpe Park was claimed by the police to be the weapon used in the murder, who linked it to all the defendants in both trials. The police commissioned Dr Robinson, a firearms expert, to examine the gun, and on the basis of his report, the prosecution were able to claim that this was the murder weapon. The four charged with murder commissioned their own firearms expert, Mr Dyson, to examine the evidence, but his findings gave their lawyers no grounds to challenge the prosecution evidence concerning the gun.
The only other evidence was that of mobile phone calls made between the defendants (although there is no record of what was said in any of the calls).
At the second trial, the other defendants commissioned a different firearms expert, Geoffrey Arnold, who said that the experts in the first trial had not done their work properly. As a result, they had missed opportunities that could have proved whether the gun was or was not the weapon used to kill the victim.
In addition, Mr Arnold found evidence sufficient to enable him to conclude that it was unlikely that it was the murder weapon. It had almost certainly not been discharged since the barrel had been sawn off, before the murder. Following his evidence at the second trial, the jury found the defendants Daud Ahmed and Abdi Rahman Ali not guilty.
The mother of two of the defendants in the murder trial attended the second trial. Hearing that a key item of prosecution evidence had been discredited, she informed her sons’ lawyers. They commissioned a further report from the defence expert used in the second trial, and lodged an appeal with the Court of Appeal. This appeal was heard on 8-9 December 2011 by judges Aiken, King and Stephens.
The appeal was entirely concerned with argument about whether the evidence of the defence expert from the second trial would count as fresh evidence. ‘Fresh evidence’, for the purposes of a criminal appeal, is evidence that was not available to the defence at the trial. Appeal court judges do not want their court to waste its time with hearing expert evidence that defence lawyers could have obtained, but failed to obtain at trials. They asked: was the evidence offered by the second expert genuinely fresh, or merely an opinion which differed from that of the first defence expert?
The judges did not call Mr Arnold so as to hear direct from him whether or not his evidence was fresh. They simply decided that the evidence was not ‘fresh’, and so the appeals were dismissed. They will give their reasons at a later date.
The families of Nigel and Denzil Ramsey, Levan Menzies and Michael Chattoo were outraged at what seems to be a gross injustice. At the later trial, exactly the same prosecution evidence that had been used to convict the four of murder had been discredited by a competent expert so that a jury could not find the defendants guilty. Surely they would be entitled to have this same evidence put before a new jury in a retrial of their case?
They had not had the chance at their own trial to use evidence that the prosecution expert had not followed established scientific procedures and as a result deprived them of the chance to prove that the gun shown to the jury could not have been the murder weapon.
Further, the jury that tried them had not had the chance to hear evidence showing the gun was unlikely to have been the murder weapon, nor did they have the guidance of a competent expert who could explain clearly why even the evidence produced by the prosecution showed that the gun was not the murder weapon.
For example: when a shotgun is fired, plastic wadding is discharged along with metal shot. Usually marks (striations) are made on the wadding which are characteristic of the particular gun that fires them. The wadding found on the victim showed no striations. But the wadding from a whole series of test firings by the prosecution expert showed consistent striations. This gun always left these particular marks. So it is highly unlikely that the wadding found on the victim was discharged by the gun exhibited at the murder trial.
Lord Justice Sir Richard John Pearson Aikens told us that the Court had decided not to admit this evidence on grounds of “expediency and justice”. “Expediency” is clear enough: their lordships do not want their valuable time taken up with appeals based on expert evidence. But “justice”? We are unable to see where anything we could recognise as justice comes into their considerations.
And if the four lads from Burngreave jailed with minimum terms of 20 – 35 years conclude that justice has been denied them and maybe put forever beyond their reach, we could not contradict them.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

JENGbA PRESS RELEASE - RESPONSE TO HRAG & LORD JUDGE

PRESS RELEASE - JENGbA (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association) 7 December 2011
 
Lord Judge said: "It seems to me, perhaps the real problem is with the law of murder itself.
 
"It's particularly difficult and troublesome when more than one person is said to be involved, a joint enterprise murder.
 
"Who is guilty of murder when four people, three people, surround somebody?  The one who kicks, the one who suddenly produces the knife - the offensive weapon that causes the death - the one who eggs on the one who's got the knife, the one who says to him, 'For God's sake...'?" he added.
 
"It's complicated too by the various defences.  These are all extremely complicated when they're put together in the one case."
 
(Extracted from http://t.co/hPw2HYCF)
 
This is the reaction of campaign group JENGbA (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association) to the report of the Homicide Review Advisory Group, (6 December 2011).  The report recommends that ‘mandatory’ life sentences are replaced with Judges having the right to decide on sentences, depending on the circumstances of the case. 

The Homicide Review Advisory Group is made up of Judges, Academics and QCs.  It suggests the system does not allow for sentences to match individual crimes.  JENGbA's concern is that instead Joint Enterprise allows for anyone at the scene of a crime, or with an association with the perpetrator to be prosecuted in the same way and then sentenced as the same, and does so with little or no regard to their actual culpability.

This is an important part of the debate about sentencing.  If there was proper discretion, then Judges would not have to give a life sentence for cases of 'association'.  JENGbA is actively campaigning to change the law on Joint Enterprise.  A law that means innocent bystanders can, and have been dragged into serious criminal cases merely by some association, and not necessarily a criminal association to the perpetrator.  The public are not aware of this law and, therefore, do not understand how it is being used or that in its current state is convicting innocent people.  The Nuffield Report released earlier this year also goes someway in explaining this.

Trials become overly complicated as all defendants are put together on the same charge, often leaving juries with no choice but to convict all the defendants, even when it is obvious the offence was committed by a single perpetrator.  Education and debate is crucial and campaigners believe the issue can no longer be ignored.  As it stands it leaves a heavy and unnecessary burden on the taxpayer, destroys the lives of families and leaves communities with no trust in the Police or the Justice system.
 
Gloria Morrison, JENGbA Coordinator says
 
"The UK's most senior judge has expressed concerns relating to joint enterprise convictions.  JENGbA is representing prisoners who have been convicted under joint enterprise and their families.  We have been contacted by over 270 prisoners many of whom are serving life sentences for something they did not do, did not foresee was going to happen nor intend to happen, but have been convicted by an archaic law that is being abused to get convictions and not justice.  The public are NOT aware that there are people in prison serving disproportionate sentences for an offence where there was no evidence to convict them so joint enterprise is used as a catch all for convictions".  
 
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CALL
Gloria Morrison on 07709115793 or Janet Cunliffe on 07729033890

Monday, 5 December 2011

JENGbA & LAI Meeting in LONDON - Tues 13th December, 7.30pm

JENGbA and London Against Injustice are holding a joint meeting at 7.30pm on Tuesday 13th December, Milfords Pub, 1 Milford Lane (off The Strand), London.
All welcome.


Milfords, Milford La., Strand, London
Directions and map HERE

Thursday, 1 December 2011

JENGbA & INNOCENT MEETINGS - Wed 7th December, 6pm, Royal Oak Pub, OLDHAM

JENGbA is holding a meeting at 6pm on WED 7th DECEMBER, at the Royal Oak pub in Union Street, Oldham OL1 1EN.  (This immediately precedes the regular monthly meeting of INNOCENT which starts at 7pm in the same venue.)

Anyone who has been affected by Joint Enterprise or wishes to learn more about our campaign is welcome.

Directions available HERE
Royal Oak, Union St, Oldham

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Haldane Society Human Rights Lectures 2011 - 2012 Tuesday 6th December: Guilt by Association: Criminalisation through joint enterprise law




Speakers: 
Gloria Morrison: campaign co-ordinator for JENGbA - Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association. JENGbA represents the families and supporters who have loved ones convicted under joint enterprise. JENGbA have been contacted by 260 prisoners claiming have been wrongfully convicted. She is a mother, grandmother, writer and teacher. 

Simon Natas: solicitor advocate and senior partner at Irvine Thanvi Natas solicitors in East London. Specialisist in criminal defence law and legal adviser to JENGBA. Simon recently co-authored a submission for the purposes of the Commons Justice Committee inquiry on joint enterprise.  

6.30pm, College of Law, 14 Store Street, London WC1E 7DE (Goodge St tube).  

Free admission. £10 charge to practitioners requiring CPD points.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Demonstration to protest against wrongful convictions and failure of the Criminal Cases Review Commission to put them right

Tuesday 6th December 2011
 
The march will start at Fazeley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, at the Moor Street end. Everyone should converge from 11.30am to start off at 12 noon.

The proposed route is as follows, we should all walk up to Moor Street and cross over by the pelican lights up to where the bull is and continue onto the High Street, turn left into Union Street and continue towards the direction of Corporation where we cross into Cherry Street, continue towards St Phillips Church where we turn right then left into St Phillips Place and we shall stop outside No. 5 which is where CCRC is located.

Can everyone make sure that they are wrapped up WARMLY just in case the weather changes. Please come along with your banners, 'T' shirts, and please spread the word.
 
Organised by West Midlands Against Injustice 

Monday, 14 November 2011

JENGbA Meeting in London - Tues 15.11.11, 7pm

JENGbA is meeting at 7pm on Tuesday 15th November, Milfords Pub, 1 Milford Lane (off The Strand), London.
All welcome.


Milfords, Milford La., Strand, London
Directions and map HERE

Friday, 11 November 2011

Thursday, 3 November 2011

This thing they call Joint Enterprise

This thing they call Joint Enterprise.

I can't believe I'm doing time
locked away for another man's crime
This thing they call Joint Enterprise
Rips apart families - ruins lives.

It won't matter that you didn't join in
with this law you will never win
This thing they call Joint Enterprise
They will convict you with their lies.

All I did was answer my phone
for this they dragged me from my home.
This thing they call Joint Enterprise
Is this enough for me to stand trial?

I didn't do it, everyone said,
but they will listen to the prosecution instead.
This thing they call Joint Enterprise
I didn't know - I can't read minds.

They call me a murderer - but it wasn't me
It wasn't me fault I couldn't see
This thing they call Joint Enterprise
Can see you convicted for the most serious crimes.

It won't matter to them it wasn't you,
they'll still find you guilty too!
This thing they call Joint Enterprise
For another person's actions you'll be sentenced to life
(Contributed by Ashleigh Towers)

The Amazing Art of Jamal Parchment Folarin - 3

More amazing art by Jamal - shared with us here with his kind permission









Tuesday, 1 November 2011

By Liz Mackean
BBC Newsnight

Youths on the streets
The joint enterprise law has caused resentment on the streets
The law of Joint Enterprise allows the courts to impose a life sentence on people even if they took no direct part in an offence.
People can be convicted of serious offences, even murder, whether or not they wielded a knife or threw a punch.
The police say the law is a valuable weapon and deterrent and its use has helped them tackle gang culture and violence.
But campaigners see it as a way of locking up innocent people, some of whom just happen to be at the scene of a crime.
In the absence of any data, a committee of MPs is now trying to establish how widely the law is being used.
Perhaps most famously the law was used to convict Derek Bentley of the shooting of a police officer because he said to his accomplice Christopher Craig - who actually pulled the trigger - "Let him have it."
Savage attack
Joint enterprise was also used to convict three teenagers of the murder of Garry Newlove, whose assault by drunken youths in 2007 was seen as proof of David Cameron's broken Britain.
The coroner found Mr Newlove died from a single kick, but all three, including Jordan Cunliffe who was 15 at the time, are serving life for murder.
Garry Newlove
Garry Newlove's killers were convicted under joint enterprise
Mr Newlove's widow Helen has said his sentence is entirely justified:
"Life should mean life. If you are saying Jordan Cunliffe did not attack my husband, he certainly stood next to that body and watch them beating and beating. You're as guilty as a person, because you are watching that act, you are guilty of that act."
But Cunliffe's mother believes the joint enterprise law is being used to convict those only peripherally involved in a crime - or as she says, in her son's case - simply in the wrong place.
Commander Simon Foy of the Metropolitan Police has been responsible for taking the message of joint enterprise into London schools to warn youngsters what can happen if they get involved with the wrong crowd.
"I make no apologies for how we have used this as a principle to get across what we hope is a positive, constructive, educative message," he says. "The most important thing we can do in these events is to stop someone getting stabbed or killed."
Police are confident the law is helping to keep young people away from trouble and has even had an impact on levels of knife crime in London.
'Being targeted'
But there is a very different view of it in the dense estates where gang culture has flourished:
"From what I have seen and from cases I know with joint enterprise they do spend a lot of time building up a case but it seems to be easier to build a case of joint enterprise, it gets rid of the whole guilty before proven innocent thing," says Yohanes Scarlett, a student who grew up an estate in West London. "It's almost like you are guilty now prove to us are innocent, it's a lot harder to do that."
Riot police during the disturbances in Tottenham, north London, August 8 2011
Some believe the alienation caused youths to take part in the summer riots
Yohanes says that young people there think they are being targeted:
"I think a lot of people have experienced JE either personally, or they have friends who have gone through it, so it starts making people not trust the police as much - they feel police are specifically targeting their communities."
Kumani, a local youth worker, says many young people are scared of being simply in the wrong place and falling foul of the law.
He says it has caused resentment towards the police and an alienation which he thinks partly explains why some people took part in the summer riots.
"I know young boys who have been hit with a joint enterprise charge and, having been in the criminal system at the age of 13 or 14 will come out at the age of 26 and have spent most of their adult life in prison."
Kumani introduces me to several young people who all believe that joint enterprise is responsible for sending the innocent to jail. And campaigners agree with them.
The campaign group Jengba says it is fighting 256 cases. Of those, 215 prisoners are serving life for murder.
Twenty-five percent were under 21 when convicted and 59% are from black and ethnic minority communities.
The police insist the law is applied in a considered way. While acknowledging that its use has increased, they have no data on how many people have been charged under it.
The Ministry of Justice and Crown Prosecution Service also keep no figures to show how many people are charged under joint enterprise, so one of the first tasks of the Justice Select Committee of MPs will be to establish how widely the law is being used.
Potentially more decisive will a Supreme Court judgement due later this year where the way joint enterprise is used to take on gangs is very much on trial.

BBC 2 Newsnight 1.11.11 - feature on Joint Enterprise

Friday, 28 October 2011

Pastel drawing by Samantha Joseph

Rose, by Samantha Joseph


Samantha sent this lovely pastel drawing of a rose to JENGbA

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Joint Enterprise: Committee to hold final evidence session

Joint Enterprise: Committee to hold final evidence session

27 October 2011
The Justice Select Committee will hold its final evidence session into this inquiry on Tuesday 1 November when evidence will be heard from:
At 10.30am
Professor Jeremy Horder, Professor of Criminal Law, King’s College London
At 11.15am
Ministry of Justice:
Crispin Blunt MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
Keir Hopley, Deputy Director, Criminal Law and Legal Policy.
The session will take place in Committee Room 5

The session will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis as seating is limited and there is no system of tickets or advance booking. Please advise security staff that you are attending a committee meeting and they will direct you. You should allow at least 20 minutes to go through security.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Joint Enterprise: Committee's first evidence session


Joint Enterprise: Committee's first evidence session

20 October 2011
The Justice Select Committee will hold its first evidence session in this inquiry on Tuesday 25 October when evidence will be heard from:
At 10.30am
  • Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions
At 11.15am
  • Jean Taylor and
  • Christine Jones, Families Fighting for Justice
At 11.40am
  • Gloria Morrison, and
  • Dr Andrew Green, Joint Enterprise-Not Guilty by Association, JENGba
The session will take place in Committee Room 8
The session will be open to the public on a first come, first served basis as seating is limited and there is no system of tickets or advance booking. Please advise security staff that you are attending a committee meeting and they will direct you. You should allow at least 20 minutes to go through security.
Further information

Friday, 29 July 2011

Thursday, 28 July 2011

JENGbA PETITION FORM NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE

You can view, download and print the JENGbA petition form for reform of JE here

Please send completed forms to JENGbA at the address on the top!

Monday, 4 July 2011

JENGbA NEWSLETTER 7 - JUNE 2011 PUBLISHED

You can read and download the latest newsletter by clicking on the image below...

Monday, 20 June 2011

JOINT ENTERPRISE FILM (2011)

You can view and download JENGbA's new film here

Or watch it on YouTube in 2 parts...
 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

JENGbA FILM SHOWING - 7pm, 18 JUNE - SHEFFIELD

You are invited to the showing of our newly released film JOINT ENTERPRISE: NOT GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION, at Christ Church, 257 Pitsmoor Rd, Sheffield, on Saturday 18 June, 7 - 8.30pm
 
Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association (JENGbA) is a campaigning organisation whose aims are to change the application of the Joint Enterprise Law and to overturn convictions of innocent people wrongly convicted due to the admission of inadequate and misleading evidence in trials. We are currently supporting over 200 prisoners who are protesting their innocence after being convicted under the Joint Enterprise Law. The film will be followed by a Q&A Session attended by friends and family members representing the wrongfully convicted.

Google Map here
Public Transport information here

Thursday, 21 April 2011

JENGbA MEETING 26.04.11 IN HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT - HOW TO GET THERE

The meeting will now take place in the Grand Committee Room in the Palace of Westminster on Tuesday, 26th April 2011, 3-5pm

Click here for a map.

Directions


By Rail

Nearest Stations are Charing Cross, Victoria and Waterloo (20-30 minutes walk).


Underground

Westminster (Circle, District and Jubilee Lines).


By Bus

Buses 3, 11, 12, 24, 53, 87, 88, 148, 159, 211, 453, N2, N3, N11, N87, N136, N155, N191 & N381 all stop nearby.


Use of public Transport is advised as the Abingdon Green car park is often full and meter parking is expensive and scarce.



Please use the St. Stephen's Entrance to the Palace of Westminster (number 7 on the map) and ask to be directed to the Grand Committee Room. 

The Grand Committee Room looks like this...
 




Monday, 21 March 2011

JENGbA - House of Commons Meeting Tuesday 26th April

JENGbA - House of Commons Meeting Tuesday 26th April, 2-4pm, Committee Room 14, Chair: Bruce Kent...more details to follow...contact JENGbA for info www.jointenterprise.co

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Thursday, 3 March 2011

JOINT ENTERPRISE VIDEO USED BY MET IN SCHOOLS

This video was originally commissioned by the MET then used by BBC Panorama in its own documentary on Joint Enterprise.




Wednesday, 2 March 2011

JENGbA NEWSLETTER 4

Hot off the press - you can view it by clicking on the image below...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

THE CASE OF JORDAN TOWERS - INSIDE TIME, MARCH 2011

What is left of the "Just" in "Justice"

By Sandra Lean, from insidetime issue March 2011

The prosecution and conviction of Jordan Towers leaves author and researcher Sandra Lean questioning, what is left of the “just” in “Justice?”

What is left of the Jordan Towers was 16 years old when, along with two others, he was convicted of murder. The basis for the conviction was Joint Enterprise doctrine, the central tenet of which is that persons believed to have participated in, or in some way to have contributed to, or to have anticipated the likelihood of the act of murder are, themselves, guilty of the crime of murder. What is wide open, however, is any secure definition of “participated in” “contributed to” or “anticipated the likelihood of.”

In Jordan’s case, there was no direct evidence of any of the above, other than that Jordan was with two other youths when a man was stabbed to death. The trial Judge, Recorder David Hodson, clearly stated that it was common ground that Jordan took no part in the killing. There was no evidence that Jordan inflicted any harm whatsoever on the victim. The two other youths blamed each other.

The murder was the result of a spontaneous eruption of violence – there was no evidence of a planned attack, none of any gang-related issues- nothing, in fact, which could possibly be used to suggest that Jordan could have, or should have, anticipated the events which unfolded that night.

The one piece of “evidence” which was used in court was that Jordan threw a rock to the ground. He did so after the fatal wound had been inflicted, it did not strike the victim (nor was it intended to,) and was thrown when Jordan was, according to the evidence of witnesses at the scene, standing some way off from the victim and the other youths. In what way does the throwing of a rock, well away from the victim, after the fatal blow has been inflicted, demonstrate participation in, anticipation of, or contribution to the act of murder? Common sense tells us it does not. But we are not discussing common sense, we are discussing the law, and in particular, the application of Joint Enterprise principles in serious criminal cases.

How did Jordan Towers come to be convicted of the crime of murder? The Human Rights Act, at Article 6, provides that: Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:
(a). to be informed promptly, in a language which he or she understands, and in detail, of the nature and cause of the allegation against him.
(b). to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence.
(c). to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require.

Two issues arise here. Was Jordan Towers informed, in a language he understood, and in detail, the nature and cause of the allegations against him? It would seem not. Jordan was not charged with “joint enterprise,” he was charged with murder. Had the charge been simply murder, without the need for basing it in Joint Enterprise doctrine, then it could not have stood – all of the evidence, as agreed by the judge himself, proved that Jordan took no part in the murder. The nature of the allegation against him was that he somehow participated in a murder which all of the evidence showed he did not. But was that ever explained to Jordan in detail, or in a language he understood?

Clearly not. Jordan was 16 years old, and wholly dependent on his legal representatives to advise him, and this is where the second issue arises – was Jordan Towers able to be properly defended by the legal representatives engaged to do so?

One of the other co-accused was represented by the same firm of solicitors which was defending Jordan, creating an immediate and clear conflict of interests. Since the two other co-accuseds were blaming each other, and Jordan was blaming both, it is clear that Jordan’s testimony could have been extremely damaging to the defence of both co-accuseds. Jordan was advised by his legal representatives not to give evidence in his own defence, in what can only be seen as a calculated move to protect the interests of the co-accused being represented by the same firm.

Previous advice given to Jordan appears to have also been grounded, to a large degree, in concerns for the possible consequences for another client – for example, he was advised only to speak about himself in police interview (presumably to avoid him saying anything which may incriminate another.) The consequence of this, clearly, is that Jordan was not able to adequately defend himself, by providing information about what the others had done that night.

At trial, the co-accused being represented by the same firm made several allegations about Jordan. For obvious reasons, defence counsel could not address these allegations on Jordan’s behalf, without seriously undermining the interests of their other client. The impact, therefore, of Jordan being advised not to give evidence, was compounded.

An application to the CCRC explored these issues in depth. Extensive submissions covering the failings of the legal representation, and in particular, the impact of a clear conflict of interest, were made. Further submissions, relating to the detail of charges under Joint Enterprise were also made, namely that of the three tenets of Joint Enterprise – knowledge, participation and intent – only one, participation, was addressed in Jordan’s defence, therefore a full and proper defence was not before the jury.

The CCRC refused to refer the case back to the Court of Appeal, on the basis that Jordan, himself, made the decision not to give evidence in his own defence, that the CCRC did not consider that there was any real possibility that the Court of Appeal would be persuaded that any deficiencies in the standard of defence Jordan received affected the fairness of his trial, or therefore, impacted upon the safety of the conviction, and that assumptions had been drawn that Jordan would have been a credible witness.

The first of these is patently ridiculous. Jordan was 16 years old, facing a charge of murder. He could not possibly have known what was the “right” thing for him to do, and was entirely dependent on the legal team to make those decisions on his behalf. The law in the UK deems that 16 year old children are not mature enough, and do not have enough life experience, to make informed decisions as to whether they should smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, or which political party they should vote for in an election. To suggest that they are mature and experienced enough to know what is in their best interests when facing something as serious as a murder charge defies logic.

The last of these appears to have missed the point entirely. Had Jordan been properly advised, his accounts in police interview would arguably have been more coherent, more reliable, and more credible. It was the advice of the solicitors themselves which led to Jordan being unable to tell the police properly his experience of events that night, not because it was not in his own best interests to do so, but because it was in someone else’s best interests for him not to do so. Jordan could not have known that by acting on advice designed to maintain the best interests of another, he would be damaging his own best interests.

But it is the “real possibility” test, as highlighted here, which appears to have hog-tied the decision making powers or possibilities of the CCRC. The Commission’s conclusion is that it “did not consider that there was any real possibility that the Court of Appeal would be persuaded….” Therefore, cases can only be “reviewed” in the very narrow confines of what it is thought will persuade the Court of Appeal that a conviction is unsafe. Any semblance of an independent Review Commission evaporates when that Commission is working within the confines of the very body whose findings it is supposed to be reviewing. There is no remedy to be had for Jordan Towers, when the CCRC cannot refer his case back on the grounds that his basic human rights were denied. There is no remedy to be had for Jordan Towers when the CCRC cannot address the fundamental issue that Jordan was charged and convicted of murder, but that charge could not have stood without being rooted in the principles of Joint Enterprise.

The purpose of a review commission, most would believe, would be to consider cases where clear injustices have occurred, and to address both those injustices themselves, and the causes of those injustices. Tied by the “real possibility test” the CCRC is incapable of addressing any issues which fall outside of that narrow remit, regardless of the extent to which those issues may have contributed to, or resulted in, injustice and unfairness occurring. This strictly legalistic approach allows many cases, such as Jordan Towers’, to slip through the net.
Yet to return momentarily to the Human rights Act, Article 7 requires that the law must be clear so that people know whether or not what they are doing is against the law.

Where is the clarity which informs citizens that simply being in the vicinity of the commission of a crime is against the law? Where is the clarity which informs a 16 year old youth that the throwing of a rock which strikes nobody can see him convicted of murder? Where, indeed, is the clarity that a charge of murder, which could not stand alone, can still be the basis for a conviction for murder, by the simple utilisation of other legislation?

These are issues which the CCRC does not, and cannot address. Yet where do those who have suffered injustice turn, when the body they believe can review their cases impartially, and remedy the failings which have led to those injustices, cannot do so?