Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 14:20 UK

Campaigners' joy as Shields freed

Campaigners who have fought for the release of Michael Shields were "overjoyed" at the Justice Secretary's decision to pardon and release him.

The Liverpool fan was jailed in 2005 for the attempted murder of a barman in Bulgaria following the Champions League final.

For four years, since Mr Shields' conviction, family, friends, fellow football fans, politicians and religious leaders have called for his release.

BISHOP OF LIVERPOOL, JAMES JONES

"I have always believed in Michael's innocence.

"I am so happy for him. I saw him a few weeks ago and was impressed by how he has coped.

"He and his family have been through a terrible ordeal. I hold them in my prayers as they rebuild their lives."

LOUISE ELLMAN, LIVERPOOL LABOUR MP

"I am overjoyed at Jack Straw's decision.

"Jack Straw has brought justice to an innocent young man.

"This is a day for celebration."

LIVERPOOL FC

"We know how difficult the last four years have been for Michael and his family and everyone at the club, the staff, the players and the fans have tried to support them during this time.

"We hope now that Michael and his family will be able to move on with their lives and look to the future."

EURO MP ARLENE MCCARTHY

"Finally, after over four years of fighting and numerous setbacks Michael is free.

"The Bulgarian authorities' failure to accept their democratic responsibilities to right a terrible wrong has meant that we have been left with no option but to put pressure on our own government and on Jack Straw personally to do the right thing and free Michael."

FAIR TRIALS INTERNATIONAL

Chief executive Jago Russell said: "Since attending his trial in Bulgaria in 2005 we have known that Michael's conviction was unsafe.

"Not only was the police investigation seriously flawed but key evidence was also ignored.

"We are delighted that justice has finally been done and that today Michael is able to return home to his family."

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Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, has supported the Shields' family's campaign.



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