Innocent until proven guilty.
But if you are proved guilty, then
ruled to be the victim of a miscarriage of justice, are you proved
innocent? Can law squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube?
The court is hearing two joined appeals: R (on the application of Hallam) v Secretary of State for Justice
and R (on the application of Nealon) v Secretary of State for Justice
Sam Hallam and Victor Nealon had been imprisoned for serious crimes,
then their convictions were quashed. Miscarriage of justice, as defined
in the Criminal Justice Act, bars compensation unless a new fact shows
beyond reasonable doubt that the person did not commit the offence. But
is that incompatible with the presumption of innocence in Article 6 of
the European Convention on Human Rights?
Outside the court, the first day of the hearing is marked by two
veterans of notorious miscarriage of justice cases related to IRA
bombing campaigns: Paddy Hill (of the Birmingham Six) and Patrick
Maguire (of the Maguire Seven) are among those who've come to hold up a
banner for Sam Hallam.
Paddy Hill is "driven by seemingly endless reserves of fury" - I'm quoting Jon Robins in his new book Guilty Until Proven Innocent (Biteback Publishing, £12.99) which dissects the calamitously underfunded, under-resourced British criminal justice system. Robins
writes that "Patrick Maguire visited Hallam in prison in 2006 and,
convinced of Hallam's innocence, campaigned for his release. 'My biggest
sentence started when I was released - and Sam will have to go through
this too,' Maguire said when Hallam was freed [in 2012]."Sam Hallam served seven years in prison. Victor Nealon served 17 years.