Prisoners’ families call for ‘full judicial inquiry’ into joint enterprise law

Families of prisoners serving time following joint enterprise convictions are to launch a new campaign today calling for a judicial inquiry into the controversial common doctrine.

JENGbA (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association) intervened in the landmark Supreme Court ruling in February 2016 in the case of Jogee which held that the courts had taken a ‘wrong turn’ in its application of the law.

The grass roots campaign, comprising largely of working class women, has proved effective in highlighting concerns over the law and persuaded the House of Commons’  justice committee to look at the issue, not once but twice (2011 and 2014). Jimmy McGovern made the film Common for the BBC, broadcast last year, after one of the women contacted the author (here).

JENGbA calls Jogee ‘a vindication for all those who had campaigned against this serious problem with the law’. However in October last year, hopes were crushed when the Court of Appeal denied leave to appeal to some 13 defendants in six separate cases.

At today’s meeting at the House of Commons hosted by the Labour MP Ian Lavery, the group will make the case for an inquiry bypassing the Appeal courts. ‘We believe that rather than attempt to take each case independently to the Court of Appeal there should be a full independent judicial inquiry,’ the group says. ‘This is the only way forward that will ensure innocent people are not serving mandatory life sentences for crimes they did not commit. An inquiry of this sort would uncover the magnitude of the flaws that JENGbA have been highlighting for many years and, hopefully, put balance and fairness back into the criminal justice system.’

‘Today we will address a number of key issues that deserve to be fully acknowledged by everyone in attendance. We can tell you that our loved ones are innocent, legal professionals can tell you our loved ones are innocent. Members of the public who are made aware of joint enterprise can tell you that they don’t understand how or why a person who has not murdered anyone can still be convicted and receive a mandatory life sentence for murder.’

This article was first published on November 15, 2017

Author: Jon Robins

Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon’s books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council’s journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year’s Criminal Justice Alliance’s journalism award

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