Mountain out of a molehill

Your article ('Programme accuses court of self-interest' 21 November) gives a wholly misleading account of the hearing before the Court of Appeal on 5 May.

You report the allegations that "the court refused to hear crucial evidence because of qualms over criticisms of Nicholas Purnell QC's original defence" and quote Anthony Scrivener QC as saying "there seems to be some resentment on the court's part that an attack was being made on a very experienced, very well-known and highly respected counsel", and David Jessel (the presenter) as saying the decision to refuse the appeal "appeared to be an example of the system going to great lengths to safeguard its own integrity".

The judgment in fact shows that the court simply found the statutory test for the admission of fresh evidence on appeal was not satisfied. This was because the evidence in question (a theoretical report by an expert in geriatrics who had never met or observed the murder victim) would have been manifestly incredible in the light of the first-hand evidence given at the trial. Far from assisting the appellant's case, the court found it would have been positively damaging to it.

The judgment of the Court of Appeal ran to 29 pages. Only five concerned the handling of the defence at the trial. The court felt compelled to deal with this aspect because criticisms of the original defence team had been forcefully argued before it and so could not be ignored. Accordingly, the above quotations from the programme which you have printed are manifestly unfair.

Master Michael McKenzie QC

Registrar of Criminal Appeals

Royal Courts of Justice

London WC2A 2LL.