Innocence Network UK (INUK) was established by Dr Michael Naughton, an academic expert on miscarriages of justice and the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of the innocent, for the following reasons that were identified in his academic research:
- PROBLEMS WITH THE SYSTEM: Despite the creation of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) and the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) in Scotland, factually innocent victims of wrongful convictions still find it difficult, sometimes impossible, to have their cases referred back to the appeal courts and overturned. Click here, here, here and here for analysis.
- VICTIMS: The wrongful conviction of factually innocent people inevitably results in serious social, physical, financial and emotional damage far beyond harm to the prisoner only. It extends to family, friends and society itself. It includes the victims of crime and their families too because the real perpetrator is still at large often committing further crimes and justice has not been done. Click here for analysis.
- PROGRESSING PRISONERS MAINTAINING INNOCENCE: Life sentenced prisoners maintaining factual innocence are, generally, unable to progress through the prison system, with a view to consideration for parole, as they refuse to acknowledge their crimes (because they maintain innocence), which the system considers an essential pre-requisite for rehabilitation. So they are faced with the impossible decision of admitting to the crime, in the hope of release, or continuing to maintain factual innocence, knowing that they may never come out of prison as a result. Click here, here, here, here and here for analysis.
- NO ALTERNATIVE ORGANISATION: INUK was established because there was no other organisation at the time to address these problems in the same way. In particular, the organisation JUSTICE ceased its work on alleged miscarriages of justice when the CCRC was set up on the misconception that it was the panacea for the wrongful conviction of the innocent. As an independent project, with a firm educational base, INUK provided a strong voice in a unique way.
INUK was launched by Dr Naughton at a press conference on the eve of the Innocence Projects Colloquim held at the University of Bristol, School of Law, 3rd September 2004, that explored the feasibility of establishing innocence projects in UK universities, similar to those that exist in the United States.
The launch of the INUK also featured in the Times Law Reports, 7 September, 2004.
It was also reported by the University of Bristol at: News item on University of Bristol website
INUK AS AN UMBRELLA FOR MEMBER INNOCENCE PROJECTS IN THE UK
When Dr Naughton established the University of Bristol Innocence Project, the first innocence project pro bono law clinic in the UK, he was literally inundated with requests by colleagues and students in other universities to help them to set up innocence project in their universities.
In response to this need, and because there were so many applications and so many eligible cases that needed to be worked on, from January 2005-September 2014, he used INUK as an umbrella organisation for facilitating the establishment of, and supporting the subsequent running of, member innocence projects in the UK . His thinking was simple: the more innocence projects, the more likely it would be for innocent victims of wrongful convictions to overturn their convictions.
During that time, INUK actively assisted in setting up 36 innocence projects – 35 in UK universities and one in a corporate law firm. 20 national training events and conferences were organised under the auspices of INUK to train staff and students in member innocence projects. Dr Naughton also devised a methodology for assessing applications/claims of innocence which was used to assess over 1,500 applications for members, of which over 100 cases were referred to member innocence projects for further investigation.
In that time, Dr Naughton’s innocence project, the University of Bristol Innocence Project, for instance, made submissions and full applications on behalf of ‘clients’ to the CCRC (R v Hall, 2011) and Scottish CCRC (Beck v Her Majesty’s Advocate, 2013) who had their convictions successfully referred back to the appeal courts and successful assisted two clients in Parole Board oral hearings to progress to open prisons.
The overturning of Dwaine George’s murder conviction in December 2014, a case assessed and referred by Dr Naughton/ INUK to Cardiff innocence project, provided further evidence of INUK’s success in identifying victims of wrongful convictions who have been failed by the existing criminal appeals system and the CCRC and cemented the evidence for the necessity and potential of innocence projects in the UK under the existing arrangements.
Overall, then, we celebrate the contribution that Dr Naughton and INUK made in establishing a new form of legal education in UK universities and beyond. Cases referred by INUK to member innocence projects have been shown to have been meritorious and to have fallen through the existing criminal appeals and CCRC systems.
We will keep a watchful eye on the 100 or so other cases that we assessed as eligible and referred to universities. We hope that those who took on those cases of alleged innocent victims of wrongful conviction and imprisonment who may be innocent will pursue all leads and explore all available forensic science techniques and possibilities in attempts to settle the claims of factual innocence one way or the other in the quest for justice for the wrongly convicted and the victims of crime at the heart of those cases.
The ball is now firmly in the court of the individual innocence projects and other criminal appeal and miscarriage of justice schemes set up to rival INUK just as they wanted. It’s now over to them………
INUK: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
Various sources have wrongly reported that Dr Carole McCartney was a co-founder of Innocence Network UK (INUK).
This is not correct.
INUK was founded by Dr Michael Naughton alone who also directed the project for the whole of its life time at the University of Bristol.
It is true, however, that Dr Naughton did work with Dr McCartney (and other interested parties) in 2003/04 on exploring the desirability and feasibility of innocence projects in UK universities as they do in the United States and other jurisdictions.
It is also true that Dr Naughton explored working in collaboration with Dr McCartney and Leeds University to develop INUK, which was expressed in various public meetings and articles.
However, that potential collaboration did not materialise and whilst Dr McCartney is correctly credited with setting up one of the early innocence projects in a UK university (with significant input from Dr Naughton), she did not help in the founding of INUK or with its development in any way.
Finally, and in fairness to Dr McCartney, it is instructive that her university biogs over the years at whichever university she has been at have never claimed that she is a co-founder of Innocence Network UK (INUK) or that she was associated with INUK in any way.