They always come good in the end, these miscarriages of justice, and – inch by excruciating inch – the case of Eddie Gilfoyle is nearing the point where the Criminal Cases Review Commission would look foolish not to refer it, and the Court of Appeal mutton-headed not to quash the conviction.

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I Had Never Read the News

I had covered earthquakes, interviewed Presidents, cowered under gunfire, delivered grave statements to camera while balancing, absurdly,  on a camera box so that the Taj Mahal/Great Wall of China/Miscellaneous Secret Police HQ would be framed conveniently over my shoulder.

But I had never Read The News. It wasn’t that I particularly wanted to – indeed , those pampered para-celebrities in their warm studios, perfectly lit and with other people’s words conveniently unrolling before them on Autoscript, have always been mildly despised by reporters in the field, particularly when the field in question was cold and damp, the light was fading fast, and the words just weren’t coming. It’s a sentiment privately shared by many newsroom journalists; among the kinder descriptions of a newsreader is ‘gob-on-a-stick’.

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Campaigners and the Commission

The CCRC is not the body we campaigned for.  It never was.  Most of us who, in the eighties, were concerned with miscarriages of justice had a vision of an independent Court of Last Resort, which could cut through the intransigence shown by the Court of Appeal in cases such as the Birmingham Six and the murder of Carl Bridgewater.

That didn’t happen.  Parliament, instead, came up with a formula whereby the CCRC had the power to send a conviction back to the Court of Appeal, while the Court alone had the power to quash it.  The linkage lay in the 1995 statute’s provision that the CCRC could refer only when there was a ‘real possibility’ that the Court would quash the conviction.

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