Miscarriages of JusticeUK

Lawrence family and the public alike still do not know who actually murdered Stephen Lawrence over 18 years ago

Gary Dobson and David Norris Conviction an abuse of 'Due Process'

'MOJUK is not concerned with the 'innocence or guilt' of those in jail. We are concerned only that they have been brought to trial and convicted through 'due process of law'. This since its' foundation has been the corner stone of MOJUK's 'Raison d'être:

MOJUK are completely opposed to the jailing of Gary Dobson and David Norris, for the way they have been convicted is a blatant abuse of due process. The Crown Prosecution Service 16 years ago, fouled this case up in every possible way, leading to the acquittal of Dobson. New Labour had to legislate to change the law, so that they could quash the original verdict against Dobson and then charge him all over again.

Ths real culprits of the murder of Stephen Lawrence are the *Metropolitan Police, there is no dispute about their racism at the time of Stephen's murder 1993 (and many think it still persists) and that racism was their motive for doing sweet nothing to apprehend the killers 18 years ago. The Metropolitan Police that were involved at the time should be tried for culpable manslaughter.

'Double Jeopardy' a corner stone of justice in the UK that a person cannot be tried for the same offence twice, for hundreds of years, is no longer and the real victim of the decision to convict Dobson and Norris.

The forensic evidence that convicted Dobson was extremely weak, comparable with the gunpowder evidence in the Barry George trial. In general the trial could be described as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) throwing as much shit as they could at the defendants in the hope that some of it would stick and it did.

I am sure Dobson and Norris, will appeal, if they do, and for no other reason than that their conviction was an abuse of due process, MOJUK hopes they succeed.

John O for MOJUK

* Stephen Lawrence [Met collusion with murder suspects]

Ben Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment she has made of the conduct of the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into the relationship between the Metropolitan Police and the families and acquaintances of suspects in the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence;

(2) whether she plans to examine reports of collusion and corruption between members of the Metropolitan Police and the families and acquaintances of suspects in the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence; [89117]

(3) what assessment she has made of whether reports of corruption and collusion in the investigation by the Metropolitan Police into the murder of Stephen Lawrence have been properly and fully investigated. [89175]

Nick Herbert: Allegations of corruption and collusion between members of the Metropolitan Police and families and acquaintances of suspects in the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence were examined by the MacPherson inquiry. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has also investigated complaints from Neville and Doreen Lawrence. If new allegations are made, it will be for the Metropolitan Police Service and the Independent Police Complaints Commission to decide what action to take.
House of Commons / 18 Jan 2012 : Column 823W

Gary Dobson and David Norris were arrested and charged without publicity on 8 September 2010 and on 23 October 2010 the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, applied to the Court of Appeal for Dobson's original acquittal to be quashed. Dobson was already in prison at the time for drug dealing.[39] Norris had not been previously acquitted, so no application was necessary in his case. Dobson's acquittal was quashed following a two-day hearing on 11 and 12 April 2011, enabling his retrial.

JENGbA calls for review of Joint Enterprise law

From: Rosemarie Leclerc <rosemarieleclerc@yahoo.com>

The Stephen Lawrence murder trial convicted two men out of a wider group of suspects. Their prosecution was brought under the little-understood law of Joint Enterprise. In such cases, those peripherally associated can be found guilty while the actual perpetrators may go free. Joint Enterprise is a means by which slim evidence and "possible foresight" to a crime occurring can be used to convince a jury of more than one persons' guilt when they may have played a lesser or even no part in what occurred.

While this antiquated legal principle may be convenient, its use to convict all regardless of their actual involvement in a crime effectively turns the well-established cornerstone of British justice called *Blackstone's Ratio on its head so it is "better that ten innocent persons suffer than one guilty escape". JENGbA (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association) knows of over 270 cases of prisoners convicted under Joint Enterprise who protest they are innocent of the index offence.

The Lawrence case in no way represents a success story for Joint Enterprise law. It shows the failures of Joint Enterprise, and this is because the Lawrence family and the public alike still do not know who actually murdered Stephen Lawrence over 18 years ago, or whether that person is still walking free. The Joint Enterprise doctrine encourages a "wall of silence" amongst those suspected of involvement or knowledge of a crime. This case has highlighted the use of the old law, and its flaws, showing that new guidance is urgently needed to avoid more innocent people languishing in prison while guilty people walk free.

Campaigners at JENGbA hope the current House of Commons Justice Select Committee Inquiry into Joint Enterprise will endorse the need for reform, and will acknowledge the past wrongs done in its name. "It is time for Joint Enterprise law to be seriously revised so that innocent people are no longer serving life sentences for other peoples crimes. Our prisons are already overcrowded, and we need to be  imprisoning those who are a danger to the public, not bystanders to other people's crimes", added Gloria Morrison, campaign spokesman.

(For more information, please contact JENGbA at jointenterpriseinfo@gmail.com or 07709 115 793)

* William Blackstone, English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century; Blackstone's Ratio, better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer, was repeatedly cited by Ben Franklin and other Founding Fathers as an argument for the American principles of justice, such as "innocent until proven guilty".

Lawrence case: the elephant in the room

Brendan O'Neill, Spiked, Thursday 5 January 2012

The double-jeopardy rule survived the Dark Ages, but it could not survive the New Labour years.

With every media outlet, from the Sun to the Socialist Worker, editorialising about how the conviction of David Norris and Gary Dobson for the murder of Stephen Lawrence was a 'glorious day' for Britain, I knew it would be a thankless task to go on the radio and ask: 'What about the double jeopardy rule?'

On Nick Ferrari's breakfast show on London's LBC radio this morning, I argued that all the people describing this case as a victory for justice are overlooking the fact that it is a victory built upon the wreckage of some pretty important legal principles. One longstanding legal protection in particular - the double jeopardy rule, the idea that no one should be tried twice for the same crime - had to be dismantled in order to get Dobson back in the dock. Having been acquitted of the murder of Lawrence in 1996, Dobson was what we used to call 'autrefois acquit', previously acquitted, which in the past would have meant that he could not have been tried for the murder a second time. That all changed in 2003, when New Labour ditched the double-jeopardy rule.

Ferrari was having none of it. 'But these men are wicked', he said. Even my agreement with him that the men are indeed lowlifes, alongside my argument that 'this isn't about them, it's about what kind of justice system we want to have', didn't wash. 'I disagree with everything you say', Ferrari told me, and cut me off mid-sentence.

Double jeopardy is the elephant in the room of the Dobson and Norris conviction. Sure, journalists are mentioning it, usually in fluffy factboxes titled 'How this case came to court', but no one wants to discuss it in detail. No one wants to discuss the extraordinary amount of history and progressive tradition that had to be consigned to the dustbin of 'bad ideas' in order to secure one conviction against two nasty blokes.

The double-jeopardy rule had existed in some form or other for centuries. There was a Roman maxim which said 'nemo bis in idem debet vexari' - no man shall be punished twice for the same. It's there in early Christianity, too, in St Jerome's insistence in the fourth century that 'there shall not rise up a double affliction'. It's also in the sixth-century Digest of Justinian, the seed of much of modern jurisprudence, which insisted that, 'The governor should not permit the same person to be accused of a crime of which he has been acquitted'. An academic study of the double jeopardy rule in history points out that it is one of the 'few legal rights recognised by the Christian fathers throughout the Dark and Middle Ages' (1).

In twelfth-century England, a form of double jeopardy was codified in the Constitutions of Clarendon, which, in an attempt to rein in the authoritarian instincts of Henry II, stipulated that no man could be tried for the same offence in both the ecclesiastical courts and the king's courts. It had to be one or the other. From England it spread to the US, where the eighteenth-century revolutionaries and their successors made a bar against double jeopardy a key plank of their new republic's constitutional guarantee of liberty against state power. In each historic period, the purpose of the rule against 'double afflictions' was strikingly similar: to protect individuals from potentially being hounded and interminably retried by governors, crown forces or cops determined to stick them in jail. That's because being permanently at risk of prosecution is itself a kind of life sentence.

Yet where the double-jeopardy rule survived the Dark Ages, it could not survive the New Labour years. Proving they're even more allergic to liberty than those pointy-hatted men who ruled Europe in that bleakest period of cultural and moral deterioration, New Labour suits decided to ditch the double-jeopardy rule in 2003. Taking their cue from the 1999 Macpherson Report into the Stephen Lawrence case, which proposed a new 'power' to override the double-jeopardy rule, New Labour's Criminal Justice Act 2003 made it possible to retry someone for a serious offence of which he had previously been acquitted or convicted.

And so it was that a legal protection that had existed in various forms for two millennia, articulated by everyone from Romans to saints to revolutionaries, was discarded - all in the name of bringing a few rotters from south London back to court to answer for the killing of Stephen Lawrence. Add the ditching of the double jeopardy rule to recent assaults on the right to silence and even on the right to trial by jury in some instances, and you can clearly see that it is not justice that is being boosted here, but rather the power of the state over the once-sovereign individual. The further legal denuding of the individual before the forces of the state is simply too high a price to pay to secure convictions against people we don't like. The immediate losers might be people like Dobson, but the long-term losers are all of us, with our rights and protections, fought for over centuries, further eroded by the state and its compliant media cheerleaders and supposedly liberal supporters.

You don't have to be a friend of Dobson or Norris to recognise that undermining long-standing legal protections for a narrow and fleeting end is never a good thing to do. Isn't there also an old legal maxim about how 'hard cases make bad law'?