Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 13:13 UK

New legal bid for Shields release

Michael Shields
The 21-year-old was moved to a British prison in 2006

Lawyers acting for jailed Liverpool fan Michael Shields are launching a legal challenge over Justice Minister Jack Straw's refusal to grant him a pardon.

Shields was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the attempted murder of a barman in Bulgaria in 2005, but has always maintained his innocence.

The 21-year-old is serving the sentence in England, and Bulgarian officials say his release is up to UK authorities.

Shields's lawyers are applying for a judicial review of Mr Straw's refusal.

Mr Straw has told Shields's supporters he has no jurisdiction to consider either a pardon or an early release - and insisted it was down to Bulgarian authorities.

I shall continue to fight for this young man until justice has been done
Louise Ellman MP

Shields's lawyer John Weate was serving papers at the High Court on Thursday to seek a judicial review of Mr Straw's position.

The review will challenge Mr Straw's ruling regarding "the power to grant a pardon to repatriated prisoners wrongly convicted in a foreign jurisdiction".

Mr Weate said: "It's maybe not the last throw of the dice but it's very close to it and all we want is for Jack Straw to make a decision on the merits of Michael's case.

"We know that the merits of Michael's case are very strong.

"Now we just want the High Court to tell Jack Straw that he has jurisdiction to consider a pardon and we would then be very confident that that's what he will do."

'Legal clarity'

Louise Ellman, the Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, said: "This application for a judicial review is a vital step in securing justice for Michael Shields.

"It is important that there is legal clarity about who decides his future.

"I shall continue to fight for this young man until justice has been done."

If the application is successful, it would not necessarily lead to Mr Straw ordering Shields's release, but it would force him to make a decision one way or the other.

Petition for jailed fan's release
27 May 08 |  Merseyside
Bulgaria refuses Shields pardon
10 Jan 08 |  Merseyside
Shields passes lie detector test
20 Dec 07 |  Merseyside
New 'evidence' over Shields case
21 Nov 07 |  Merseyside
UK government could free Shields
13 Nov 07 |  Merseyside

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