Injustice reviews hit major delays

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The Independent Online
WRONGLY CONVICTED prisoners are being made to serve their entire jail sentences because of "major problems" at the commission set up by the Government to examine possible miscarriages of justice.

The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said in a report published yesterday that delays at the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) were "unacceptable".

It said: "People who have been wrongly convicted will be serving out their sentence before their case has been dealt with. Furthermore, far from the situation being in hand or improving, it is deteriorating."

The committee says the demands upon the CCRC "will increase relentlessly" and calls for it to be given greater resources and to improve its efficiency.

The CCRC was established at the beginning of 1997, on the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, set up after the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of the Birmingham Six in 1991.

Only 40 cases have been referred by the CCRC to the Court of Appeal. Of these, eight have been quashed, two have had sentences reduced, and three have been lost. The remaining 27 are still before the court.

Successful appellants include Danny McNamee, accused of the Hyde Park bombing, and the family of Derek Bentley, who was hanged for his part in the murder of a police officer.

By the end of last month, the commission had received 2,325 applications, of which 69 per cent were still being considered for eligibility or substantive review.

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