02 May 2008

Home Office obfuscates to avoid embarrassment

I sent an email to the Home Office last month, to encourage them to get involved in the debate about why false evidence was used at my trial.

Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2008
From: Michael John Smith
To: public.enquiries [at] homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
Cc: complaints [at] attorneygeneral.gsi.gov.uk
Subject: Complaint to the Attorney General

Dear Sirs,

I am sending you a copy of the correspondence below, because the Home Office is also culpable in suppressing evidence regarding my conviction in 1993 under the Official Secrets Act.

I have copies of letters from Members of Parliament, representing the Home Office, claiming that there was no wrongdoing by anyone involved in my prosecution. However, the evidence now proves that the Home Office were lying about these matters, and that those lies were sent to several other Members of Parliament.

I now expect an explanation of why the Home Office has lied about the facts? If you cannot satisfy my request for an explanation then this will have to be played out in the public domain.

Kind regards
Michael John Smith

I received the following reply:

Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2008
From: "Little Laurie (OCJR, BTU)" Laurie.Little [at] cjs.gsi.gov.uk
To: Michael John Smith
Subject: Response to your e-mail 16 April.
Attachment: 2008.04.22 Signed copy response to 198006 Michael John Smith.pdf

Dear Mr Smith,

Please find attached a signed copy of the reply to your e-mail of 16 April.

Laurie Little

Office for Criminal Justice Reform
Better Trials Unit
Miscarriages of Justice Team
Ground Floor, Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

020 7035 8466

The Office for Criminal Justice Reform is the cross-departmental team that supports all criminal justice agencies in working together to provide a service to the public.

Mr Little’s letter is printed below:

Criminal Justice System: working together for the public

22 April 2008
Our Ref: 198006

Michael John Smith

Dear Mr Smith,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 16 April, addressed to the Home Office. This has been passed to the Ministry of Justice which now has responsibility for this subject area, and I have been asked to reply.

I note from the exchange of e-mails that your complaint against the Attorney General relates to an alleged miscarriage of justice, namely your conviction under the Official Secrets Act in 1993. Your allegation is that you were convicted on false information given to the court.

You refer in your e-mail exchange to your application made to the CCRC in 1998. I know therefore that you are aware that, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) took over responsibility from the then Home Secretary in 1997, the responsibility for investigating alleged miscarriages of justice, I have spoken with the CCRC who have assured me that your application is actively under review. I understand that you were provided with a provisional Statement of Reasons in April 2003 but that you made subsequent representations to them and provided additional fresh evidence. Further to this you have, as recently as December 2007, provided them with further fresh evidence which they are actively investigating.

I appreciate that your case is taking a long time to resolve but again I am assured by the CCRC that they are fully investigating all the fresh evidence you have provided since 2003 and that this is of a complex nature and requires thorough investigation. It would be wrong for ministers of the Crown to interfere with the CCRC's investigation of your case. The CCRC will complete their investigation and in due course provide you with a final Statement of Reasons as to whether or not they will refer your case to the Court of Appeal.

Should you wish to make a complaint about the procedures of the CCRC, the Commission operates its own complaints procedures; it is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration. Any complaint that cannot be resolved informally is referred to a designated Complaints Manager, and is acknowledge within a few working days. The Complaints Manager investigates the complaint, and will let the complainant know within ten days how long the investigation is likely to take. If the complainant is not satisfied with the Complaints Manager's findings, the complaint can proceed to a second stage review by the Commission's Chairman or nominee.

Yours sincerely,
Laurie Little

Miscarriages of Justice Team
Better Trials Unit, Ground Floor, Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF

Mr Little’s letter refers to the complex nature of the evidence I have submitted to the CCRC. There is really nothing complicated about it at all. I am simply pointing out that key evidence produced at my trial was false, and I expect this matter to be addressed and given the same prominence that the false evidence was given at my trial.

The issue that the authorities seem to be concerned about is that this matter is embarrassing to them, and raises questions about why the false evidence was not identified and corrected before my trial. These are questions they may or may not wish to answer, but all I want is for the correct evidence to be put before the Court of Appeal, and then a decision made as to whether it can now be considered that my conviction was “safe”. If this injustice is not corrected, then there is no alternative but for me to continue complaining until somebody takes notice.