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Call for independent authority on miscarriages of justice

Andrew Little
Justice Spokesperson

2 January 2014
MEDIA STATEMENT

Call for new independent authority on miscarriages of justice

The government should be seriously considering setting up an independent body to deal with claims of miscarriage of justice rather than burying its head in the sand on the issue, the Labour Party says.

The dean of the University of Canterbury law school has today called for the establishment of an independent body to deal with allegations of miscarriage of justice. At the moment, such claims are handled under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy process which is managed by the Ministry of Justice.

“An independent body like the Criminal Cases Review Commission which they have in England and Scotland and which is dedicated to investigating claims of wrongful conviction and miscarriage of justice would be another safety valve for the justice system and would mean victims of serious crime do not suffer years of doubt about whether the right offender has been caught,” Labour’s justice spokesperson Andrew Little says.

“Cases going back as far as Arthur Allan Thomas and as recent as Mark Lundy, and including Teina Pora in between, could all have benefitted from a criminal cases review commission.

“The reality is that things can go wrong in a trial and juries can get things wrong, and the appeal process can sometimes allow too narrow an opportunity to challenge what has gone wrong at trial.

“I visited the Criminal Cases Review Commissions in both England and Scotland recently and I have seen the benefit of having a body solely focussed on miscarriage issues rather than the system we have at the moment which is absorbed into the huge Ministry of Justice, the body also responsible for administering the justice system generally.

“The part of the equation often overlooked is the interest victims have in an effectively functioning justice system, and they want to know that the person convicted of the crime against them or their family is certain and secure. A criminal cases review commission offers a safety valve that reduces the chances of wrongful convictions hanging around for years.”

ENDS

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