A Privy Council hearing opened last week into the case of a Jamaican death row prisoner, represented on a pro bono basis by City firm Lovell White Durrant.
Lovells partner Graham Huntley is acting for Albert Huntley, who has been on death row in Jamaica for over 11 years charged with murder after the shooting of a schoolteacher.
Huntley says: “This is a very important test case. The lives of about 100 men on death row may depend on it.”
He says the classification process with which his client was convicted of “capital murder” was unconstitutional and unfair because it breached the rules of natural justice.
The Jamaican government has now suspended the system which divides murder convictions into “capital”, carrying the death penalty, and “non-capital”, carrying life imprisonment.
Huntley (the fact he shares his client's surname is coincidental) has visited his client on death row twice.
“The conditions are frightening. The building appears to date from the early 18th century, when it was used to house slaves before auction.
“In the cells the prisoners are in virtual darkness, there is serious overcrowding and no sanitary conditions worth speaking of.
“The appearance of anyone prepared to look after their interests gives them a boost which helps them keep going.”
Graham Huntley was one of the founder members in January 1988 of the London Pro Bono Panel, which now acts for all the Jamaican death row prisoners.