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No compensation for reversed conviction, because ground not new or newly discovered fact

In the matter of an Application by Gerard Magee [2016] NICA 19

The Court of Appeal ruled that the Department of Justice was entitled to refuse compensation to a man under Section 133(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, because the reversal of his decision was not on the ground of a new or newly discovered fact, but on the passing of the Human Rights Act 1998.

The appellant was arrested in 1988 in connection with terrorist offences.  Despite having requested access to a solicitor, a 48 hour delay was authorised under the terrorism legislation.  He made admissions after a number of interviews.  He was tried without a jury and although he challenged the admission of his confessions, he was convicted in 1990.

The European Court of Human Rights, in 2000, found that there had been a violation of the appellant’s rights under Article 6 on the basis that he had been denied access to a solicitor.  His conviction was then quashed by the Court of Appeal.  However, when he sought compensation, the DoJ refused, finding that the wording of the provision required convictions to be reversed on the ground that a new or newly discovered fact shows beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice.

Following the Supreme Court decision, re. McCartney and McDermott [2011] which held that new or newly discovered facts could include facts known during trial or appeal, the appellant judicially reviewed the DoJ’s decision.  While they had a discretion to reconsider their decision, and did so reconsider, they still refused compensation.  The decision was appealed and the Court of Appeal upheld the DoJ’s decision in refusing compensation.

Read news article here.

Miscarriages of Justice