Yesterday (4 March) the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the convictions of eight of the Shrewsbury 24 to the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal to consider the lawfulness of their convictions in 1973/4.
Members of the Shrewsbury 24, supported by the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, had asked the CCRC to refer their 1973/74 convictions to the Court of Appeal on the basis of a number of grounds, including: (i) recently discovered evidence that original witness statements had been destroyed and that this fact had not been disclosed to the defence counsel; and (ii) the broadcast of a highly prejudicial documentary during the first trial, the content of which was contributed to by a covert agency within the Foreign Office known as the Information Research Department. The original application was made in 2012 and the CCRC originally refused to make that referral in 2017.
Following that first refusal, four of those applicants pursued a judicial review on behalf of the wider group. Permission to proceed to a full hearing was originally refused on the papers, but was subsequently granted by Mr Justice Jay in November 2018. The CCRC continued to defend the proceedings until the day of the hearing before Lord Justice Flaux and Mrs Justice Carr DBE; unusually conceding part way through the submissions of Danny Friedman QC that the CCRC would withdraw its decisions and reconsider them.
The CCRC has now confirmed it will refer those convictions to the Court of Appeal in respect of the two grounds identified above “because it now considers that the new evidence and argument outlined above create a real possibility the Court of Appeal will quash the convictions.”
Terry Renshaw, speaking on behalf of the pickets, said,
We are absolutely delighted with the decision and look forward to our day in court to show that we were victims of a miscarriage of justice. Without the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign we would not be where we are today. We owe a great debt of thanks to them for the tireless work that they have carried out.
Jamie Potter, Partner in the Public Law and Human Rights Department at Bindmans LLP and lead solicitor for the pickets supported by the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, said:
The decision of the CCRC to refer the convictions of the Shrewsbury 24 is welcome. It can only be hoped that this matter will now be resolved quickly with justice being achieved for the Shrewsbury 24 pickets. It has been a long and arduous battle for the pickets and the Campaign Committee that has supported them: it could never have reached this stage without the pain-staking research of the Committee, and in particular its Secretary Eileen Turnbull, who uncovered key evidence more than four decades after the relevant events took place.
The above article was published yesterday (4 March) on the website of the pickets solicitors, Bindmans LLP. The original article can be found HERE.