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Thursday, February 4, 1999 Published at 10:21 GMT


Cash boost for miscarriages of justice body

The Birmingham Six: One of several major miscarriages of justice

The Criminal Cases Review Commission set up two years ago to investigate alleged miscarriages of justice is receiving an extra £1.2m to help clear its massive backlog of cases.

But insiders believe that the cash injection announced by the government this week will have little short term impact on the 1033 cases currently awaiting review.

The commission was set up following a series of major miscarriages of justice, including the Birmingham Six who spent 16 years in prison for IRA bombings they did not commit.

The CCRC, which operates independently of the Home Office, has since been overwhelmed by cases.

Chairman of the Bar Council's Public Affairs Committee, Bruce Houlder QC, said it was "predictable" that the latest cash boost would not be enough.

"The government has really got to fund this commission properly if they are serious about it working," he said.

Labour MP Robin Corbett, who sits on the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said the CCRC needed to be more rigourous.

"I do not think people have any more faith in the commission than when it was locked in the bowels of the Home Office and politicians had their fingers all over it," he said.

Committee chairman Chris Mullin MP, welcomed the increase in funding, saying it would make "a very considerable difference".

But he agreed that the review procedure needed speeding up.

"If you are sitting languishing in prison for something you did not do, you are entitled to expect that any information you put forward will be examined within a reasonable period," he said.

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