Guilty Until Proven Innocent Book Launch

Created on June 25, 2018

Guilty Until Proven Innocent Book Launch

Defence lawyers at Old Bailey Solicitors attended the book launch of ‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent’ by Justice Gap author Jon Robins this evening, hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Miscarriages of Justice at the Houses of Parliament.

The event was chaired by Barry Sheerman MP and included speeches from Jon Robins, author of Guilty Until Proven Innocent: the crisis in our justice system, Eddie Gilfoyle, long standing miscarriage of justice campaigner and prominent legal practitioners.

Old Bailey Solicitors are proud sponsors of the book, which examines miscarriages of justice and exposes gaps in our criminal justice system. Contributing not only financially, Rod Hayler, a senior solicitor and managing director of the firm, also wrote the preface, drawing on his vast experience as criminal defence lawyer:

“The front door crashes open. It’s just past 5am. There are feet pounding up the stairs. As you stumble out of bed, you’re taken aside. You hear those words you have heard so many times on television: ‘You don’t have to say anything… ’ The neighbour’s curtains twitch as, head bowed, you’re placed into the backseat of the police car. 

You’ve got nothing to hide. You have faith in the criminal justice system. But your nightmare is just beginning. 

 As a lawyer specialising in criminal defence for 20 years, I have news for you. Many of the people I represent are not guilty.

How sure can any of us be that the police will realise that they’ve taken a wrong turn? That the CPS will decide not to take the matter any further? That the jury will find sufficient doubt to outweigh their ‘no smoke without fire’ prejudice?

It has been more than a quarter of a century since scandalous miscarriages of justice such as the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six shocked the British public out of its complacency about the supposed infallibility of our criminal justice system. Widespread concern led to a royal commission which was followed by fundamental reforms.

Such reforms never ‘fixed the problem’. It would be naïve to think that they ever could.

As practitioners in our criminal courts, we witness at first-hand the frailties of the criminal justice system on a daily basis. This book is being published at a time when an underfunded system is creaking. Unprecedented pressures on the police and prosecution, swingeing cuts to the Ministry of Justice budget, not to mention two decades of frozen legal aid rates for defence lawyers all contribute to a brewing crisis.

Should the aim of the criminal justice system be to ensure that all guilty persons are convicted, even if that means a few innocent ones go down? Or should it strive to protect the innocent at all costs, even if that means letting a few guilty people slip away? Both options involve ‘miscarriages of justice’; but the presumption of innocence favours the latter over the former.

Sadly, that presumption has been under heavy attack over the last two decades from ambitious politicians and a press quick to be outraged but reluctant to understand.

The stories of the people that feature in this book should send shivers down the spines of every law-abiding citizen. The increasing focus on convicting the guilty instead of protecting the innocent, means that we may all have cause to fear the dawn raid before too long.”

Please contact us if you would like a copy of the book, or if you feel that you have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

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