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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 04:16 GMT
Action urged over miscarriages of justice
The Birmingham Six
The Birmingham Six was the first of many miscarriages of justice
The government has been urged to do more to prevent further miscarriages of justice, by a man freed by the Court of Appeal after 12 years in jail.

The call from Raphael Rowe, one of the M25 Three, comes after a poll commissioned by BBC News Online suggested that more than half of respondents had "lost faith" in the criminal justice system.

Mr Rowe was freed by the Court of Appeal in July 2000 after 12 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

Another 67% of respondents in the poll felt that not enough had been done to ensure that miscarriages of justice do not happen in the future.

The survey, carried out by ICM Research Ltd using 1,000 respondents, was carried out as part of BBC News Online's Life Of Crime special report.

A series of high profile miscarriages of justice have provoked widespread criticism of the criminal justice system over the last two decades.

Even in cases from beyond the grave, such as Derek Bentley and Hussein Mattan, have been revisited and names cleared.

Mr Rowe told BBC News Online: "The government is too complacent about miscarriages of justice.

"Many MPs, who were advocates of miscarriage cases while in opposition, are now in a position of power and they have done very little."

He said every week new cases were being highlighted. Earlier this week doubts were suggested over the conviction of Michael Stone, jailed for the murder of Megan Russell in Kent.

Mr Rowe said: "Aside from the high profile cases, there are also hundreds of low profile cases which are not getting the publicity."

He said several small changes would make a big difference:

  • All evidence should be disclosed to the defence.

  • The defence should have access, and funding, for the same facilities and forensic tests as the police.

  • Journalists and lawyers should have easier access to prisoners, to enable them to highlight potential miscarriages of justice.

Paddy Hill, one of the Birmingham Six, said he believed that as many as 3,000-4,000 people are in prison for crimes they did not commit. He accused the government of not doing enough.

Mr Hill, who has set up his own pressure group Miscarriages Of Justice Organisation, told BBC News Online: "Justice is something that is not on this government's curriculum."

He said the criminal justice system needed a radical overhaul to make it "more open and accountable".

ICM Research interviewed a random selection of 1000 adults aged 18+ by telephone between 26-28 January 2001. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.

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