News In Focus
University to launch "Innocence" project
A pro bono legal clinic designed to teach students the law through investigating alleged miscarriages of justice will be launched by Glasgow Caledonian University next week.
Paddy Hill, of the Birmingham Six, Innocence project on 12 November.
Mr Hill will be joined by John McManus, of MOJO (Miscarriages of Justice Organisation) Scotland at the launch of the project, which will see students establish a pro bono legal clinic designed to teach them law through working with real clients.
The Innocence Project, the first of its kind in Scotland, will launch on Wednesday 12 November. Part of the Innocence Network UK, its launch coincides with National Pro Bono Week, which celebrates those who freely give their time and legal expertise to those who do not qualify for legal aid and are unable to pay for help.
The national Innocence Network will allocate the university’s law and criminology students with cases where a prisoner continues to protest his or her innocence. The students, working in their own time and under the supervision of local criminal solicitors, will investigate the prisoner’s claims. Depending on their findings, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission could decide to refer the case to the High Court of Justiciary.
Michael Bromby runs the Glasgow Caledonian University project.
He said: “This project will give our students the opportunity to put their 'lawyering' skills into practice. By looking for errors in the criminal justice system, we hope that students will also understand and appreciate the system from a different perspective.
“Staff will oversee the project, but all casework will be undertaken by students in their spare time. Other Innocence Network projects have made referrals to the Criminal Case Review Commission and we hope that we may be able to do the same and that a referral will then be made to the High Court of Justiciary.”
Mr McManus, of MOJO Scotland, said: “The scale of the problems of miscarriages of justice in Scotland and the rest of the UK is quite clear to us and we know that MOJO doesn’t have the resources to help all the people claiming they are innocent. That is why we need Innocent projects in universities all over the country.”
The Innocence Network UK was established in 2004 in response to the creation of the Criminal Case Review Commission, the body set up in the wake of cases such as the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four to investigate alleged miscarriages of justice.