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Law project up for prestigious human rights award

27 August 2015

Innocence Project

Law school project up for prestigious human rights award

Cardiff Law School’s Innocence Project has been shortlisted for a 2015 Liberty Human Rights Award, in recognition of its tireless work battling miscarriages of justice.

The Cardiff Innocence Project – through which students work on real-life potential miscarriage of justice cases - has been nominated for the coveted Christine Jackson Young Person Award.

Last year, under the supervision of Professor Julie Price and Dr Dennis Eady, law students on the Cardiff Innocence Project helped to quash the wrongful murder conviction of Dwaine George, following 12 years in prison.

Cardiff is the first of any UK university to successfully overturn a wrongful conviction.

The Liberty Human Rights Awards celebrate the achievements of organisations and individuals from all walks of life who have worked tirelessly to protect and promote fundamental freedoms at a time when the post-war human rights consensus faces an unprecedented attack.

Professor Julie Price, Head of Pro Bono and Director of Cardiff Law School Innocence Project, said: “Our Innocence Project student caseworkers at Cardiff, past and present, are thrilled, despite not knowing who nominated them. We, and they, pay tribute to student volunteers and supervising staff in all universities working on difficult cases for people maintaining innocence, to Dr Michael Naughton for his vision in starting the first innocence project in the UK, and to all families and their supporters experiencing the horror of wrongful convictions”.

Dr Dennis Eady – Case Consultant at Cardiff Law School – who runs the project on a day-to-day basis, said: "So much good work has been done by students of our innocence project, the vast majority of which ultimately fails to succeed in the face of an intransigent appeal system.  The recognition of the work done on the Dwaine George case gives our dedicated and often unrewarded students a massive boost.

“While I congratulate the Dwaine George team on their fantastic achievement, and the key breakthroughs really were made by the students, I hope the nomination will be seen as a recognition for all the students who have worked to the best of their ability on many cases and shown dedication to a cause where the work is so hard and the successes so rare and difficult to achieve."

Caitlin Gallagher, who’s now a qualified solicitor, was elected student Innocence Officer during her time as a student at Cardiff University, and visited Dwaine George in prison when working on his case.

Caitlin Gallagher said: “I am delighted to hear that Cardiff Law School’s Innocence Project has been shortlisted for The Christine Jackson Young Person Award.  The Innocence Project at Cardiff Law School has been running for nearly 10 years and it’s encouraging that the students and staff who work tirelessly to overturn wrongful convictions have received recognition for the work they do.  We were lucky that Dwaine trusted us to take up his case and that so many people gave their time so selflessly.”

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: “This year’s awards take place under the darkest of shadows – the threat to our Human Rights Act, our most formidable tool for protecting fundamental freedoms and holding the powerful to account.

“At this time, it’s more vital than ever to celebrate the power of collective action and fearless campaigning, and to remind ourselves that toxic misinformation, divisive dog-whistle politics and appalling injustice can, and will, be challenged, exposed and ended.”

Around 35 UK universities have had innocence projects like Cardiff’s, with law students working on real cases supervised by academics and sometimes practising solicitors. They can represent the last hope for people claiming to have been wrongfully convicted.

The Liberty Human Rights Awards are open to the public and will take place on 7 September at London’s Southbank Centre. They will be hosted by writer, actor and comedian Jo Brand.