English barrister John Cooper has been trying to effect the release of Louise Woodward, using UK precedents on the adverse effect of pre-trial publicity.
Cooper, of 7 Stone Buildings, has been working pro bono for the Justice for Louise Woodward Campaign. Last week he sent relevant British precedents, which he says have persuasive authority in the US courts, to Barry Scheck, Woodward's defence lawyer.
These include the 1993 case of Michelle and Lisa Taylor, whose convictions for the murder of Alison Shaughnessy were quashed following “sensational and inaccurate” newspaper coverage of their trial, including a Sun picture of Michelle kissing Shaughnessy's new husband at their wedding.
Cooper, who has acted for former BCCI employees and for Stephen Packman – acquitted of supplying Ecstasy to Leah Betts – has been chosen to act as legal representative to the UK campaigners because of his experience in dealing with high publicity cases.
He is advising campaigners on US law relevant to the case, and acting as a “conduit” between the US defence team and the “thousands of well-wishers in the UK”. He is also sending the US defence team advice on tactics, gleaned from his previous work with high-profile cases, such as ensuring a consistent message comes through from solicitor and family when dealing with the press.
See page 13.