The University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP) has won the Pro Bono Award at Bristol Law Society’s annual awards.
UoBIP won the award for its work on obtaining an appeal for the 30-year-old case of William Beck.
Beck is alleged to have taken part in an armed robbery of a post van, was arrested in 1981 and served six years of imprisonment based solely on eyewitness reports.
Postgraduate law students Mark Allum and Ryan Jendoubi took the case under the guidance of Dr Michael Naughton, founder of the UoBIP.
The pair carried out detailed research and made two submissions to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), contending there was a likely miscarriage of justice due to the ‘flimsy nature’ of the eyewitness reports and the way in which the judge directed the jury.
After the UoBIP spending about 2,000 hours on the case, the SCCRC has agreed his conviction may be unsafe.
Commenting on the award, Dr Naughton said: “Not only is this testament to the team’s tireless commitment to Mr Beck’s case but also to the calibre of their research and submissions to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. There have been 1,500 cases applied to the SCCRC and only about 100 cases have been referred. It is an honour for our work to have been recognised in this way.”
This time last year White & Case became the first corporate law firm to join the Innocence Network UK partnering with UoBIP on the case of Gary Critchley. (24 October 2011)