Giving a Voice to the Innocent Our Story
The organisation was founded in 2001 by Paddy Joe Hill, one of six innocent men wrongfully convicted in 1975 for the Birmingham pub bombings. The Birmingham Six’s convictions were finally quashed, and they were released, in March 1991.
Paddy made a pledge to campaign for those he had left behind, to bring a voice to the voiceless. At that time he thought he might have to take a year out, campaigning on their behalf, before trying to build a life for himself outside of prison. In the event he has now been campaigning for over thirty years. Our aim at MOJO is to carry on his work.
We’re constantly told that the system’s been fixed, that things are better now and that the mistakes of the past don’t, and can’t, happen any more. We wish that were true. Believe us when we tell you it isn’t. We receive in excess of 200 applications per year for support and assistance in challenging wrongful convictions. We provide that support where we find a legitimate claim to factual innocence, and the number of clients in receipt of our support is increasing year on year.
We encounter, daily, the devastating consequences suffered by innocent victims of our criminal justice system. We engage with these in the following ways:
Aftercare: Whether as a result of a successful appeal or on completion of sentence, our clients’ needs on release from prison are significant, often extreme, and ongoing. Individuals commonly suffering from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are confronted with an environment, both physical and mental, of which they have had no recent experience, for which they have had little or no preparation, and in which they receive from the state assistance and support which ranges from the wholly inadequate to the non-existent. Our clients simply do not receive, on release, the counselling and other psychological care that they need. One of the UK’s leading clinical psychologists has provided, through our organisation, some such assistance on a pro bono basis and we are currently working to extend the range and scope of this. Our own in-house, professionally qualified and highly experienced healthcare and welfare rights specialists provide practical support in the arranging of housing, health and mental health care and welfare benefits as an initial service. We also facilitate opportunities for education and in the development of social skills as a means to ease, and to render successful, the process of re-integration to society. Support is also offered to our clients’ families throughout.
Legal: Our casework team assists and supports our clients in the formulation, development and pursuit of appeals against conviction. The team consists of qualified lawyers, qualified criminologists and law students, each of whom gives their time and expertise on a voluntary basis. We work in partnership with our clients’ solicitors and counsel, where the client has the good fortune to have such professional support. Due to the restricted availability of Legal Aid, however, such clients are increasingly the exception rather than the rule. We are, in practice, providing a service that simply would not otherwise be available.
Education: In working with our students we are helping to educate the next generation of legal practitioners. The experience they gain with us is hands-on and in-depth, it’s authentic, and it raises their awareness of systemic weaknesses they wouldn’t otherwise encounter. Their time and experience with us will make them better lawyers. We hope – and are confident – that when they inherit the legal profession they will have the courage and the commitment to change the system for the better. They will certainly be better equipped to avoid, and to prevent, the mistakes that underlie so many of today’s miscarriages of justice.
Campaigning: Since we first opened our doors we have campaigned to raise awareness of the issues surrounding miscarriage of justice, its causes, its effects and its wider consequences. We have campaigned for the rights of the wrongfully convicted, before as well as after exoneration. We will always continue to do so. We support many individual campaigns, and we are actively engaged in broader efforts both to bring the issues to public attention, and to bring about necessary change in the law and in the administration of justice. By way of example, we have recently hosted events at the UK and Scottish Parliaments, the European Parliament, the Dáil Éireann, and numerous UK universities in support of the “Say I’m Innocent” campaign. Our objectives are clear, and they are simple: to bring hope to the innocent, to give a voice to the voiceless.
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