The UK Supreme Court has today decided, by a majority of 5-2, to refuse the appeals of Sam Hallam and Victor Nealon against the Government’s rejection of their claims to compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment.
Current legislation provides that compensation is only payable where it can be shown that exoneration, on the quashing of a wrongful conviction, resulted from the production of fresh evidence which proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant did not commit the offence. It’s not enough that you were wrongly convicted, and imprisoned, for a crime of which you are subsequently cleared.
Mr Hallam and Mr Nealon argued that this conflicts with, and offends against, the presumption of innocence, as that is (theoretically) guaranteed by Article 6 (2) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Their position, in simple terms, is that where an accused person has been found not guilty – whether at trial or at subsequent appeal – their presumption of innocence should subsist. This is a position with which we entirely agree, as will be apparent to anyone who has read our previous articles on this subject.
The UK Supreme Court, in its judgement today, finds no such conflict. In consequence, we can see that, in reality, your presumption of innocence is stripped from you at the point of accusation. If you want it back, you have to prove it. That doesn’t appear, to us, to be much of a presumption at all.
Paddy Hill has today made the following comment:
If the Police can take you from your home and family
depriving you of your life and liberty without consequence then no one
is safe. I have said it for many years. This can happen to anyone. Don’t
wait till it happens to one of your own before you asks questions about
what is done in your name to innocent people. Compensation does not give
you your life back but it is a recognition of the wrong done to you by
the state. For the state to renege on this shows our courts, and the
Lords responsible for this judgement have no interest in justice, or
basic common decency. Innocent men and women who are wrongfully
convicted get none of the support they require from the state. They want
to brush us under the carpet. We are the guilty secret at the heart of
the failure of the British Judicial system. It is no surprise that our
fight goes on for justice.