Call for compensation rethink

UK lawyers have called for a more public and accountable system for working out compensation for miscarriages of justice in the wake of the furore over the Birmingham Six compensation award.

Criminal and judicial review lawyers have poured scorn on the discretionary £316,000 offered to Birmingham Six member Paddy Hill last year but say his chances of getting the decision reversed are low.

Hill said last week he would be taking the matter to his solicitor Gareth Peirce, of BM Birnberg & Co, seeking a judicial review if the amount was not increased. But the figure, evaluated by independent Home Office adviser Sir David Calcutt, cannot be reversed unless the decision is proven irrational.

Bindman & Partners criminal lawyer Neil O'May said: “The compensation is a complete scandal, but the frustration is that no one really knows how compensation awards are calculated. People compare miscarriages of justice with personal injury settlements but there is no connection. We need an entirely separate system.”

Claude Hornby & Cox criminal solicitor Christopher Green said: “Compensation which puts the men back to square one and covers their loss of earnings is inadequate. They also suffered the stigma attached to the savageness of the crimes and consequences of being incarcerated for 16 years.”