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Miscarriage of Justice campaign hosts conference in Cardiff

17 May 2019

Jerry Hayes QC (left), prosecution barrister who made the decision to drop the case against Liam Allan (right).

Miscarriages of justice took centre stage this March at a conference held at the School of Law and Politics.

Non-profit campaign, Innovation of Justice, chose the School as the location for their second conference, ‘Reviving the Criminal Justice System’. Innovation of Justice was set up by Liam Allan and Annie Brodie Akers.

Liam, a 23-year-old student, was falsely accused of rape by his ex-girlfriend in 2017. The charges against Liam were dropped as evidence to prove his innocence wasn’t disclosed until the last minute. The Metropolitan Police apologised to Liam following the case and admitted that a “lack of knowledge” by police and prosecutors was to blame for the error. Liam’s case was the centre of the ‘disclosure crisis’ covered in national news.

With co-founder Annie Brodie-Akers, Liam is now determined to bring the right people together: practitioners, legal professionals and those who have been falsely accused and convicted of crimes, to discuss how the criminal justice system can be improved for the better. Innovation of Justice will be holding a series of conferences around England and Wales, to educate the public and raise awareness of wrongful convictions and the detrimental effects they have on people’s lives.

This year’s conference included speakers Michael O’Brien, who wrongfully served eleven years in prison for the murder of a Cardiff newsagent, Michelle Diskin-Bates, the sister of Barry George, who was convicted for the murder of Jill Dando and subsequently acquitted, and our own students who are part of Cardiff University’s Innocence Project. 

Watch a video which documents the Innovation of Justice conference, Cardiff, March 2019

The Cardiff University Innocence Project is the only such project in the UK to have successfully overturned a conviction. In 2014, they were the first ever UK university innocence project to successfully bring a case to the Court of Appeal. Dwaine George had already served 12 years in prison for murder. 

In December last year, they helped to quash the wrongful conviction of Gareth Jones who had served three and a half years in prison after working on the case then waiting for the appeal, which took more than six years.

Speaking after the conference, Liam Allan said, “We were eager to bring an event like this to Cardiff, given the School’s recent success with overturning a conviction and the wealth of experience their innocence project has. It felt as if there was a personal touch for speakers such as Michael O'Brien, to bring it to a place they felt at home and really begin to gather support for Innovation of Justice. It's fantastic to see that everywhere we go, we are always having more people join the family, join the fight, to ensure justice is given to all those that find themselves caught up in the criminal justice system.”

Co-founder of Innovation of Justice, Annie Brodie-Akers, echoed her colleague by saying, “It was a pleasure to work alongside the School of Law and Politics, and the Cardiff University Innocence Project, on the second Innovation of Justice conference. We work to campaign and raise awareness for those who have suffered a miscarriage of justice, and it was a special moment to work with the teams who have overturned convictions first hand. We have received very positive feedback from the attendees of this event and would happily work with the School of Law and Politics again.”

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