Last week Liam Allan expressed his frustration last week (see here) at not being invited to a new Ministry of Justice roundtable to deal with non-disclosure issues within a problematic criminal justice system. Today, that frustration is being amplified, in the form of a vigil outside the Royal Courts of Justice, starting at 4.30pm.
This is the final event organised by Innovation of Justice, co-founded by Liam and Annie Brodie-Akers to break down the barriers between victims of miscarriages of justice and those who can change or influence the law. The vigil will use the banner ‘It Is Time To Talk’, in a call for the voices of victims of wrongful conviction to be included in roundtable discussions.
Families, supporters, campaign groups, academics, students and practising lawyers will stay silent for half an hour. Surgical tapes over their mouths will visually reinforce the message of the disparate group being silenced.
Innovation of Justice wants to cast the net beyond those affected by non-disclosure, to embrace the other many causes of people being wrongfully imprisoned. With that aim, three conferences were held under the Innovation of Justice banner at Manchester, Cardiff and London.
Speakers included Jerry Hayes QC (prosecuting barrister in Liam’s case), and Julia Smart QC, who found evidence that resulted in the case against Liam being dropped at the eleventh hour. Audiences heard a series of harrowing stories from and about people who feel marginalised in the fight to bring about change.
Liam has become the media’s ‘poster boy’ on non-disclosure after his near-miss following a false rape charge. Liam says about today’s vigil: ‘We think the idea of this Ministry of Justice meeting is fantastic – it is what we’ve been working towards for a year. However, it is missing one core ingredient that will allow the criminal justice system to move towards fairer justice for both real victims of crime and innocent defendants caught on the wrong side of the system: our voice.’
‘The whole point of creating Innovation of Justice was to bring together victims and policy-makers,’ comments co-organiser Annie Bodie-Akers. ‘We feel badly let down that the roundtable went ahead without our voice. We hope that this will now be rectified and that we will be invited to the next meeting.’