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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Miscarriages of justice fund call
Paddy Hill
Paddy Hill was wrongfully imprisoned for 16 years
Former Birmingham Six prisoner Paddy Hill has met Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson to call for a retreat to help victims of miscarriages of justice.

Mr Hill urged Ms Jamieson to fund the refuge to help the wrongly accused to recover from their ordeals.

He said it was now up to the government to either back or reject the plans.

Mr Hill spent 16 years in jail before his conviction for a series of 1970s Birmingham pub bombings was quashed at the Appeal Court in London in 1991.

We have taken it as far as we can and it is now in the hands of the government and the parliament
Paddy Hill

As a result of his treatment Mr Hill helped set up the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (Mojo), which held the talks with Ms Jamieson on Tuesday.

He wants the Scottish Executive to back the new centre which Mojo first raised as an issue through a petition to the Scottish Parliament in March 2002.

Mr Hill said: "We have got further than we have ever got before.

"We have taken it as far as we can and it is now in the hands of the government and the parliament.

"It's up to them to help set it up or to reject it.

"Their problem is money but as I pointed out to Cathy Jamieson they don't seem to have a problem with money when it comes to putting us in prison or keeping us in prison at a cost of thousands of pounds a week."

Shoestring budget

John McManus, project co-ordinator with Mojo, took part in the two-hour meeting at the Holyrood building.

He said the minister was "exploring" ways to find funding for the organisation which operates on a shoestring budget.

He added: "Actions speak louder than words, so we will have to wait and see if she's taken on board our message about what needs to be done."

The campaigners believe those who suffer from miscarriages of justice require special help to get over their ordeals after leaving prison.

Dr Adrian Grounds, from the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge, also attended the meeting.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson
Cathy Jamieson talked to Mojo members about a new refuge centre

He said: "This group need properly organised help. I think the provision of a refuge, an established base that can provide accommodation, is very important.

"And there needs to be the availability of skilled clinical understanding and help for this group."

Holyrood's Justice 1 Committee expressed renewed support for Mojo as part if its ongoing consideration of the group's 2002 petition.

The committee saw a letter from Ms Jamieson in which she said the executive had sent one of its staff to work with Citizen's Advice Scotland to help them draw up plans for a new advice and assistance service.

Committee convener Pauline McNeill promised to write, telling the minister that the committee was monitoring progress and might call her to give evidence at a later stage.

'Very productive'

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman added that the meeting had been "very productive" and all those present had agreed to work together to find the best solutions.

She said: "The minister was genuinely interested in trying to understand the particular problems faced by this group of people and is now keen to take time to gather more information, to look at the issues in more detail and to reflect on the options available."

Labour backbencher Bill Butler, who was also present, said: "I think the minister approached this in a very positive way."

"She listened very carefully to Mojo's concerns.

"I'm optimistic and I know the minister will certainly pursue the matter."

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