MPs to debate joint enterprise two years after Jogee ruling

Dean Strang at launch of Open Justice Charter and Proof, issue 2. Pic: Andy Aitchison

There will be a debate in the House of Commons on the controversial common law doctrine joint enterprise. Next month marks the two-year anniversary of the Jogee ruling in which the Supreme Court ruled that the controversial law had taken ‘a wrong turn in 1984’. The court said it was ‘the responsibility of this court to put the law right’.

Six months later, the Court of Appeal looked at the first wave of appeals. The Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas denied leave to appeal to all 13 defendants in six cases seemingly closing the door on attempts to overturn joint enterprise convictions.

The new debate has been called for by Lucy Powell, Labour MP for Manchester Central and member of the newly formed all party parliamentary group for miscarriages of justice.

According to statistics obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism under a freedom of information request, 1,853 people had been prosecuted for homicides involving four or more defendants between 2005 and 2013 which almost certainly relied upon joint enterprise – and 4,590 for homicides involving two or more. More than one of five of all Court of Appeal rulings in 2013 related to joint enterprise cases (22{3234d8c1bc8391a7e63ebaf7e32c90a4a5b2a92b92485c9509211683c01cefb1}).

Lucy Powell also asked the then justice secretary David Lidington to ‘look at making the courts more transparent’ and ‘particularly allowing defendants and those that have been sentenced to get transcripts and copies of the judge’s direction to the jury’. Powell told the Commons ‘in potential miscarriage of justice cases this can be incredibly difficult to get’.

The issue was highlighted in the Open Justice Charter which featured in the Proof magazine, issue 2. The charter was drafted by Emily Bolton, founder at the Centre for Criminal Appeals, Marika Henneberg from Portsmouth University, Dr Dennis Eady from Cardiff School of Law and the journalist Louise Shorter.


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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