Innocence Project Open Day
Press release issued: 28 September 2005
Following the highly successful launch of the University of Bristol Innocence Project earlier this year, an Open Day will be held on 30 September 2005 at the School of Law, University of Bristol. High profile victims of wrongful imprisonment such as Mike O' Brien and Paul Blackburn will be attending.
The University of Bristol Innocence Project, similar to innocence projects in the US and Australia, is the first such project in the UK. It is a collaborative venture of undergraduate law students working under the guidance of local criminal lawyers. The lawyers suggest avenues requiring further investigation; the students then investigate individual cases in pursuit of grounds for possible appeal.
The UoBIP exists to provide free assistance to prisoners who have exhausted all options available to them. This not only helps the prisoners but provides students with 'real world' experiences and equips them with valuable skills they can use in their careers.
Dr Michael Naughton, Founder and Director of the University of Bristol Innocence Project, will be hosting the event. He said: "The Open Day will be an opportunity for representatives from other universities around the country to learn about the Bristol Project who are eager to set up their own innocence projects."
Two victims of wrongful imprisonment will be attending:
Mike O' Brien (Cardiff Newsagent Three) is currently at the centre of the struggle to stop the Home Office from deducting 'Bed and Board' from his compensation for 'saved living expenses' during his 11 years of wrongful imprisonment.
Paul Blackburn overturned his conviction in May 2005 after spending 25 years in prison for an attempted murder that the appeal court judges said should never have even gone to court.
The leading campaigning and support groups will also be represented as well as representatives from seven other universities. They will be joined by criminal lawyers who work with the projects.
The University of Bristol Innocence Project offers assistance to prisoners who claim to be innocent, rather than those who are victims of a miscarriage of justice; prisoners with a lengthy term of imprisonment who have a minimum of four years remaining; and prisoners who have no legal representation or whose lawyers have granted permission for others to be involved.
Topics to be addressed during the Open Day include:
- The distinction between miscarriages of justice and the wrongful conviction of the innocent and the promise of innocence projects in the UK. Michael Naughton, University of Bristol.
- The educational benefits of innocence projects in the US and Australia. Carole McCartney, University of Leeds.
- Why should lawyers work Pro Bono for innocence projects? Ian Kelcey, Kelcey and Hall Solicitors, Bristol. (The UoBIP's solicitors).
The Open Day starts at 9.30 on Friday 30 September, 2005. It will be held in the School of Law, University of Bristol, Queens Road.