Taylor backs judge in Nikki Allen case

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The Independent Online
LORD TAYLOR of Gosforth, the Lord Chief Justice, last night issued a strong defence of the judge in the Nikki Allen case, warning that miscarriages of justice would occur if courts did not exclude doubtful confession evidence.

Lord Taylor said he found it 'hard to comprehend' that after public concern about miscarriages centred on unreliable confessions, judges were being criticised for excluding them. In a clear criticism of Northumbria Police, he also referred to 'attempts' to justify the conduct of the interviews.

This week, George Heron was cleared of the murder of Nikki Allen, aged seven, after the trial judge ruled inadmissible an interview in which he confessed to detectives - because it was 'oppressive'.

Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, established following an earlier series of miscarriages, judges have powers to reject interviews which break the strict guidelines governing police conduct.

Lord Taylor said: 'Despite the consternation and the public's sense of outrage that those (earlier) miscarriages should have occurred and the determination that there should be no repetition, what do we find? That when judges exclude confessions obtained in breach of the Act, by oppressive interviewing, attempts are made in some quarters - not in all - to justify the conduct of the interviews and to criticise the judge . . . Do those who adopt (this attitude) wish to have another group of miscarriages in five years' time?'