Justice predicts deluge of reviews after Home Secretary's defeat

CAMPAIGNING group Justice is expecting a flood of former clients to demand a review of their cases following the Home Secretary's defeat in the courts over the handling of alleged miscarriages of justice.

The High Court ruled that the Home Secretary should disclose evidence which comes to light when cases are re-investigated. The judges said that the test used by the minister in refusing to refer cases for appeal was “unacceptably high”.

Madeleine Colvin, legal officer for Justice, says: “I imagine we will get a hell of a lot of people asking for their cases to be sent back.” She says the judicial review decision will be crucial to the Criminal Cases Review Authority (CCRA) due to be included as a Bill in the next session of Parliament.

Colvin says draft proposals for the CCRA did not include an obligation of disclosure. She says: “We are hoping the new Bill will have a different regime. People need to know on what grounds a decision is taken so that they can counter that if it is adverse to them.”

Lord Justice Brown criticised the current Home Office C3 system as “significantly too closed”. About 700 petitions are referred to the C3 procedure each year and in about a quarter of cases major investigations are launched. But evidence gathered remains secret.

Home Secretary Michael Howard argued increased disclosure would make the pro-cess unmanageable and prone to delays.