26 July 2006

Good news for Barry George

This piece is from the MOJUK news sheet. I have attempted over the years to try to get more transparency to have documented the reasons why a jury convict. The follow up piece is my responce to this article.

Film to examine Dando evidence

BBC News Sunday 23rd July 2006

The BBC is preparing a documentary that will examine new evidence in the murder of presenter Jill Dando.

It will focus on the findings of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which is examining evidence presented by lawyers for Barry George.

He has always denied the 1999 murder and in 2002 he took his case to the Court of Appeal and lost.

The BBC would not comment on the programme's content, saying it was in the "very early stages" of development.

In March George's lawyers presented their case to the commission, which has the power to refer it back to the Court of Appeal if there is a real prospect the conviction will be quashed.

His solicitors said that he was not capable of committing the crime because of his mental disabilities.

A second plank to their case was that two new witnesses said they saw armed officers at the scene when George was arrested, contrary to what police have insisted.

This was significant because the only forensic evidence that linked him with the murder was a particle from gunshot residue, his lawyers said.

The third part to the appeal was previously undisclosed psychological profile reports which suggested the person responsible was of a very different character to George.

The BBC would not comment on reports in the Mail on Sunday that the documentary would include interviews with two members of the jury that convicted George.

There are strict laws preventing jurors talking about a case they have been involved in.

But the newspaper said it was understood the jurors would not comment on the jury's deliberations, which would put themselves and the BBC in contempt of court.

A BBC spokesman said: "The Criminal Cases Review Commission is expected to announce its findings later this year, which naturally would be of interest to any current affairs team.

"Everybody involved has been liaising with BBC lawyers to ensure that the process has been legalled throughout."

He added that no broadcast date had been set yet.

Sue's Response

For a long time now I have tried to press for a more detailed procedure for juries. I know they have to be protected and remain anonymous, but it is they who seal our fate.

We can get transcripts of the trial and Judges summing up, but we have no way of knowing how the jury came to their conclusions. It is a well known fact that within a jury there will be more dominant people and this can often lead to some members being pressures and swayed into a decision. It would be very useful, especially for appeals, if we had written reasons of how the jury reached their verdict.

They could easily remain anonymous but it would point to the facts they relied on. Many of which, when it reaches appeal stage, can be discredited or other true facts can come forward after trial which will disprove the reason for giving a guilty verdict.

When delivering a guilty verdict each jury member should independently write their reasons down and merely sign..Juror 1, 2 3, etc.

It is transparency that we need in all aspects of our system.

Sue May