21 April 2006

Government Proposals to curb Compensation payments to Miscarraiges of Justice!

I want to thank those who respond to my blog. We have some very interesting comments and debates.

I am appalled at the latest proposals by the Government to curb compensation payments to proven Miscarriages of Justice. In truth no amount of compensation can make the wrong done right, but by no means should that responsibility of the terrible damage done to any one wrongfully convicted be trivialised. It is impossible to describe what it feels like. Impossible to relate how it damages both the person wrongly convicted, but also their families and close friends. To compare this with the also terrible consequences of what families of victims of crime suffer is unacceptable. The two are different issues and should be recognised as such.

The rhetoric used by the Government claiming a 'not proven' vedict would be safer and prevent lawyers earning too much money from cases, is aimed at public opinion once again. It is only when you have been affected by the nightmare of being wrongly convicted and therefore touched by what can happen in this system that you fully realise how flawed the system is and the suggested cost cutting by Charles Clarke is not the answer. If he wishes to save money then prosecute those police officers who have been found to be corrupt, yet manage to find an 'escape route' by taking long term sick leave or early retirement on full pay and pension!

I would never wish what I went through on anyone, but I would like to bet that, God forbid, if ever put in that position even for one month, Tony Blair or Charles Clarke would have very different views on how the Innocent should be regarded.


Anonymous Nigel said...

As I see it, Susan, Charles Clarke wants to create two classes of victims, namely those of violent crime, and those of miscarriages of justice. Since the latter have less voting strength than the former, people such as the Guildford 4, Sheila Bowler, etc. can be treated essentially as second-class citizens.

Especially when the rabble-rousing tabloids can plug the line of 'no smoke without fire'.

9:49 am  
Anonymous Nigel said...

At least someone on the BBC News Website's 'have your say' section is on the right track, when he states that what is needed by way of compensation is: "...a high profile public apology and free access to education to do a degree for example to allow them to get their career back on track".

Throwing a big wad of cash at the wronged person clearly won't atone for wrongs done. Even if a 'degree' isn't necessarily appropriate, the principle remains the same - that when the State has wronged me, it has the duty to make restitution to me. Unless, that is, Charles Clarke believes that the State can do no wrong.

12:47 pm  
Blogger Alan said...

I was very disappointed to read about this, to say the least. Very disappointed in Charles Clarke, in particular. He seemed better than his predecessor. If this is still a proposal, can it be prevented?
I was reading in your previous comment, Susan, that George Osborne seemed to have a better attitude (towards people coming out of prison at least). I really hope that this new dynamic duo of David Cameron and George Osborne will be better than the current one of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. I am not trying to make a political point here. It is just that since David Cameron seems to have suffered from some personal tragedy in his life (I believe he has a handicapped child and a relative with drug problems), he may be more understanding of other people's problems. And as you rightly stated, Susan, the people making these kinds of decisions do so because they never imagine that they could be in the same situation themselves.
Having said all of that, it would be preferable if the current government could be prevented from pushing through this shameful proposal.

5:28 am  
Anonymous kt said...

i was amazed at some of the ridiculous excuses given for this ridiculous idea!
i think the state has even more reason to give compensation to victims of miscarriages of justic cos it was their system that failed!
to be locked up for something you didnt do then later be found innocent but not receive anything in the way of money/services to get your life back on track or a proper apology is a disgusting human rights abuse.
i think these human rights lawyers such as Cherie Blair should be taking on these cases.
i hope i made sense.

12:52 pm  
Anonymous Nigel said...

I didn't see Charles Clarke on the BBC's "Question Time" last Thursday, so I don't know what excuses he gave for this latest denial of Justice.

I've got an idea, though - let's put him (in a locked room) with Terry and Angela Cannings. I'm sure that as the man with all the answers, Mr. Clarke wouldn't have any difficulty in convincing this pair of the "Justice" of what he's proposing!

4:49 pm  
Blogger Susan said...

It is so important that those who can make a difference and who hold some of the power over how the penal system is to be run, fully understand exactly what transpires in prison. Understands that in truth precious time is wasted because statistics and paperwork are more important than people's lives. Charles Clarke's headache must be getting worse with the revelations today that deportees have been released from prison instead of being sent back to their country of origin! The system is a shambles and until that is acknowledged, more startling facts are bound to follow.

6:46 pm  
Blogger Alan said...

Will he or won't he? Resign that is. Looks like heavenly retribution is coming to Charles Clarke for making such a mean proposal. Perhaps if he were to apologize also to victims of miscarriages of justice ...

5:31 am  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Just in case you didn't read an article in the Guardian by Peter Hill (producer of BBC ROUGH JUSTICE), he stated that there "...are about 150 cases before the home secretary at the moment of cases where the system has done a terrible wrong to innocent people. No one anticipated that the legal system could possibly be as bad as that -until the CCRC produced the evidence. So, there are no funds to properly compensate such people and the Home Office seeks to hide that fact, because it reflects so badly on them as much as anyone else in the system." I suspect Peter Hill could be right and I would like to know why, if so many cases are already in front of the Home Secretary, where there is evidence to suggest a person is innocent or wrongly convicted, the cases have not already been sent back to the Court of Appeal? If the Home Office is faced with such evidence as stated by Peter Hill why are they not doing anything about it? It seems their solution is to reduce the amount of compensation due to the victims and where possible avoid the "quashing" of wrongful convictions altogether if it is deemed that the court process was at fault(which usually means they were stitched up). Mr Clark ought to be ashamed of himself.

Does anyone know Peter Hill or how to get in touch with him? I have looked on the internet for an e-mail address but not found one?

2:41 pm  
Blogger Alan said...

Thanks for the interesting information, Elaine. It appears as though Peter Hill runs a website called Tough Justice at www.raybrook.co.uk, on which his email address is listed as peter.hill@raybrook.co.uk.

4:58 am  
Anonymous Nigel said...

Concerning Charles Clarke's future (if any there be), my heart would dearly love to make him the subject of a "Control Order".

My head, however, says "NO!"

8:53 pm  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Thanks for the info on Peter Hill. Will keep you posted!

12:18 am  
Blogger Susan said...

I have been following the furore of recent developments re the non-deportation of prisoners at point of release, and really thought Charles Clarke would have to step down. However, I listened to an interview on T.V. with Lord Ramsbotham , who I have great respect for and actually met on several occasions when he was Chief Inspector of Prisons - and he reiterated what he has aways said that the whole system is in chaos, but that he felt Charles Clarke should stay on to 'repair' as best he can, the damage done. So because I trust anything Lord Ramsbotham says, I therefore trust his judgement on this!It really is a disgusting state of affairs and should hopefully get more people to ask more questions about the whole penal system.

1:50 pm  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I’ve just read on the MOJO site that according to Lord Bassam of Brighton, as at the 30th April, 54 applications for compensation for miscarriages of justice, 11 of which were more than a year old, are still awaiting a decision on eligibility. Why do victims have to wait like this? After eligibility has been established, which should be automatic after a conviction is quashed, it appears victims still have to wait a few more years for a settlement. According to the report, 142 applications that had been approved are still awaiting a final assessment; 36 of those applications were approved five or more years ago, 16 four years ago, 20 three years ago, 41 two years ago and the rest less than one year ago. This is just outrageous. The government should provide the manpower to assess applications and make the appropriate payments as speedily as possible (at least as speedily as when they issue prosecutions for non payment of fines or VAT).

6:00 pm  
Blogger Susan said...

As Elaine says once the wrongful conviction has been acknowledged there should be no delay in giving the compensation. Lives are already damaged and as much help as possible is needed in the aftermath! One can only hope that these proposals to curb payments are shelved because if John Prescott can be relieved of his Ministerial duties yet still be on full pay, the Government cannot use the excuse of'saving money'!!

9:24 am  

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