MOJUK: Newsletter Inside Out No 62
Ishtiaq Ahmed, to Court of Appeal - 30th of October 2002
I was arrested on October 17th 1989 and convicted of murder on January 31st 1991. I have from the outset protested my innocence. I was granted leave to Appeal on July 1st 1991.
After I and others had made formal complaint that the police had coerced witnesses to commit perjury, a limited investigation was made into the conduct of the Thames Valley police by the Bedfordshire police supervised by the Police Complaint Authority.
In February 1995, the Crown Prosecution Service applied to the High Court to suppress the report of this investigation, plus other documents on the grounds of Public Interest Immunity. This order was granted, after being postponed three times, my Appeal was finally heard and dismissed in February 1995.
At the dismissal of my Appeal in February 1995 I began a thirty day hunger strike I abandoned it only after my two local MP's and Community leaders visited and persuaded me that my case would be looked into. The Home Secretary ordered a review of my case but in July the Home Secretary refused to refer my case to the Appeal Court. No document or reports have ever been disclosed from this Home Office Review.
After the trial it emerges that the DI in charge of the case was suspended for perverting the course of justice. The DI was also involved in hit and run accident where he ran away form the scene of the incident but was later caught. One of the officer who fabricated witnesses statements died smuggling drugs, another officer was disciplined for using brutality on witnesses.
Crown Prosecution Service after lengthy correspondence from lots of MP's agreed that their files can be inspected by my solicitor this was in March 1998. To date the Crown Prosecution Service are refusing to let my solicitor inspect the file.
April 1997 the Home Office passed all files of my case to Criminal Cases Review Commission.
On August 2000 the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred my case to the Appeal Court. Date for the hearing to commence, 30th of October 2002.
I hope all campaigning people will attend the Appeal Court in London on that date to show solidarity and bring their own banners to high light their own cases.
Barry George refused leave to challenge his conviction
Dando killer's legal team told he cannot appeal to Lords By Stewart Tendler, The Times
Barry George has been refused leave to challenge his conviction for the murder of the BBC television presenter Jill Dando in the House of Lords.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, and two other judges last month threw out his appeal against conviction at the Old Bailey for shooting Miss Dando outside her home in Fulham, southwest London, three years ago. Lawyers for George then asked the Court of Appeal for permission to take the case to the Lords on a point of law and were refused.
They have now applied to a committee of law lords and asked them to ignore the Court of Appeal and hear the case. A decision is expected later this year.
Miss Dando was killed with a single shot in April 1999 as she arrived at her home in Fulham. George was arrested 15 months later and convicted in July last year. George's defence team claim that the case should go to the Lords because it involves crucial legal arguments over the use of identification evidence.
At the appeal Michael Mansfield, QC, argued that identification evidence against George should never have been put to the jury. He said that only one woman had seen George in Miss Dando's street on the day she died. Other witnesses presented by the prosecution did not make positive identifications and the trial should have been stopped because the evidence was inadmissible.
But Lord Woolf, sitting with Mr Justice Curtis and Mr Justice Henriques, said that the whole picture presented by the evidence was compelling.
The judges agreed that George was convicted on circumstantial evidence, but said that it was not secondhand evidence. They added the jury "could well have thought it was not a coincidence that the person identified should live close to the scene of the murder; be in the vicinity on the day and at the time in question; be interested in firearms and Jill Dando and .have told lies about his movements at the time".
Yard seeks faster justice for corrupt officers Jason Bennetto, The Independent
Scotland Yard has urged Britain's most senior criminal judges and the Director of Public Prosecutions to speed up police corruption trials, amid concerns that officers suspended on full pay are dragging out cases for years.
Two suspended officers whose criminal allegations have been withdrawn, but are facing disciplinary offences, have been drawing their full salary for the past five and a half years. Several other officers charged with corruption offences have been suspended for more than three years. In all there are 26 Metropolitan Police officers suspended on corruption charges, costing an estimated £1m a year in pay and other expenses.
Police chiefs believe the system is too complex and open to abuse by officers who wish to exploit proceedings.
Scotland Yard released details of the long-running cases, which are costing millions of pounds to investigate and prosecute, when it launched its new strategy for dealing with corruption.
Despite all the work in rooting out wrongdoing among the police, Sir John Stevens, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, conceded: "There's no way in God's earth that you can get rid of this type of corruption with the temptations that there are. The way of prevention is the certainty of discovery and a considerable prison sentence."
Growing anger at the delays in dealing with corruption cases has prompted Scotland Yard to contact Old Bailey judges, who deal with the most serious criminal trials, and David Calvert-Smith, the Director of Public Prosecutions, to voice their concerns.
Sir John said: "Prosecution has proved difficult. Defendants, who as police officers know the system very well, have sought every opportunity to challenge all aspects of their case. There is on occasion nothing these people will not do in discrediting individuals."
Sir John's deputy, Ian Blair, added: "We have written to the DPP expressing the Met's concerns. We have made representation and talked to judges at the Old Bailey who are concerned." He added that some defendants will "play every trick in the book" to avoid going to trial.
Scotland Yard has spent more than £20m in the past four years on anti-corruption work and has a squad of 64 detectives investigating police wrongdoing. In that time 40 officers and 15 former officers have been charged, of whom 19 serving and seven ex-officers have been convicted.
Instead of investigating whole police squads for corruption, its previous approach, the Met now makes greater use of integrity tests and scrutinises individuals who are considered vulnerable to approaches by criminals. Typically these are officers in debt, with close underworld contacts, and those who deal with large sums of money, particularly where drug cases are involved.
Scotland Yard is also concentrating on preventing corruption by providing better leadership and supervision, having greater security on intelligence and police records, and in the training of recruits. New officers are now shown a video in which a detective convicted of corruption tells the probationers how he became caught up in crime.
Trouble at HMPs: since the 23rd August, there has been disturbances in 7 jails.
H.O figures show that 71,527 inmates were in prisons with an "uncrowded capacity" of 64,159.
Trouble erupted at HMP Swaleside jail on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, when ten prisoners refused to return to their cells and damaged part of a building. The trouble at Swaleside ended after a few hours and the Prison Service moved the 11 inmates in the protest to another jail.
Other disturbances and protests have occurred at HMP Pentonville prison in North London and at HMP Ashfield jail near Bristol, which is no longer accepting new inmates in an attempt to avoid further disturbances.
Fifty-two inmates at HMP Pentonville staged an eight-hour sitdown protest on Monday. They were demonstrating against staff shortages that resulted in them being confined to their cells for most of the day. The prisoners, from D-wing, went to an exercise yard at 10.30am and began a sit-down protest. The incident ended when staff with dogs and squads of officers in riot gear entered the exercise yard at 6.45pm and the inmates gave up peacefully.
Last week one prison officer was injured at HMP Ashfield young offender institution near Bristol. Twenty-two inmates refused to return to cells on Monday night, causing superficial damage to their cells during a five-hour stand-off.
The Ashfield trouble came after "concerted indiscipline" at adult Prison Service jails in HMP Liverpool and HMP Dorchester over the previous weekend.
Prison overcrowding 'at crisis point' BBC News
Many prisons are reaching bursting point: Nearly two-thirds of Britain's prisoners are being held in overcrowded jails, according to the findings of a new study.
The Howard League for Penal Reform says 52,500 people are in jails running above capacity. In some instances, prisons are holding almost double the number of recommended inmates.
Worst is HMP Preston with 661 prisoners - but only 356 places.
Director of the Howard League, Frances Crook, has called on the government to include a compulsory limit on the prison population in the Criminal Justice Bill, which is due to be published later this year. She said: "Our prisons are becoming no more than warehouses once again. "The consequences of overcrowding are jeopardising both the safe running of the prison system and the rehabilitation of individual offenders.
Most overcrowded jails Preston 661 prisoners (356 places) Shrewsbury 331 (184)
Dorchester 258 (153) Swansea 364 (219)
"If prison is to serve any useful purpose it must be to return prisoners to the community better equipped to lead crime-free lives. "The current crisis effectively precludes this."
The prison population currently stands at 71,471 and is beginning to climb after a drop of several hundred earlier in the summer. This rise goes against the normal summer-time pattern of an overall fall in the number of inmates.
Prison numbers have spiralled from 45,500 in June 1992, and have jumped 6,000 since the start of the year.
Overall, 64 jails are now overcrowded, said the charity.
The figures are taken from the Home Office research, development and statistics directorate.
The occupancy figures relate to the number of prisoners jails were built to hold.
Review promised: Prisons Minister Hilary Benn said the current level of overcrowding was undesirable, but very limited. He said only 20 per cent of prisoners were currently having to double up in a cell designed for one.
"Regimes are still being delivered, and prisoners are still receiving education, purposeful activity, offending behaviour programmes, and getting exercise and time out their cells. 'We are reviewing the situation' "The government rejects the idea of a statutory limit on the prison population. "No prison is being required to take more than its operational capacity and we are committed to ensuring that overcrowding does not impact on safety in any way, and we recognise the pressures it creates for prisoners and staff."
Mr Benn said a review would examine management of the prison population.
He added that the Prison Service planned to increase its capacity by about 1,100 places by the end of October, with a further 1,200 places by March next year.
The Howard League believes that, although 20 per cent of inmates are "doubling up" in cells designed for one, the Prison Service does not collect data on overcrowding in other types of cells, such as when three inmates have to share facilities designed for two.