Yesterday , during a judicial review hearing before the Divisional Court, the Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed to reconsider the referral of the convictions of the Shrewsbury 24 to the Court of Appeal.
Ten members of the Shrewsbury 24, supported by the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, had asked the CCRC to refer their 1973/74 convictions to the Court of Appeal on the basis of a number of grounds, including: (i) recently discovered evidence that original witness statements had been destroyed and that this fact had not been disclosed to the defence counsel; and (ii) the broadcast of a highly prejudicial documentary during the first trial, the content of which was contributed to by a covert agency within the Foreign Office known as the Information Research Department. The CCRC refused to make that referral.
Four of those applicants pursued judicial review on behalf of the wider group, represented by Danny Friedman QC, Jamie Potter of Bindmans LLP, Rhona Friedman of Commons Law CIC and Ben Newton of Doughty Street Chambers.
Permission to proceed to a full hearing was originally refused on the papers, but was subsequently granted by Mr Justice Jay in November 2018. The CCRC continued to defend the proceedings until the day of the hearing before Lord Justice Flaux and Mrs Justice Carr; unusually conceding part way through the day that the CCRC would withdraw its decisions.
The CCRC has agreed it will now reconsider as soon as practicable whether or not to refer the convictions of the Shrewsbury 24 to the Court of Appeal.
Eileen Turnbull, Secretary for the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign supporting the Claimants, said:
“This is a magnificent success. We are one step nearer to achieving our goal of justice for the pickets. The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign has worked tirelessly over the past 13 years. Today’s result is a testament to all our hard work and the support from the labour movement.”
Jamie Potter, Partner in the Public Law and Human Rights Department at Bindmans LLP and solicitor for the Claimants, said:
“The decision of the CCRC to withdraw their refusals to refer the convictions of the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign is welcome. As Lord Justice Flaux acknowledged during today’s hearing, there can be no question that evidence of witness statement destruction would, in 2019, have to be disclosed to the prosecution. It is essential that historic unjust convictions arising from such fundamental unfairness are now corrected and we hope that the CCRC will refer this matter to the Court of Appeal so these convictions can properly be considered”.