30 January 2004

Lord Denning -a tribute

In 1980, Lord Denning quashed a civil suit brought by six men convicted of Irish Republican Army bombings in Birmingham, rejecting their claims that they had been beaten and abused by police.

"If the six men win, it will mean that the police were guilty of perjury, that they were guilty of violence and threats, that the confessions were involuntary and were improperly admitted in evidence and that the convictions were erroneous," Lord Denning said in his judgement. "This is such an appalling vista that every sensible person in the land would say, 'it cannot be right that these actions should go any further.' "

However, the six men were released and their convictions overturned in 1991 after the Court of Appeal ruled that police had fabricated evidence and that scientific tests used by the prosecution were unreliable.

I'm still reading, but that phrase 'appalling vista' keeps troubling me more and more. This would not be the first British judicial whitewash in recent years. Apparently Denning, then Master of the Rolls and head of the Court of Appeal, did not feel that keeping innocent men in jail was an appalling vista, although ultimately the Court of Appeal accepted that Denning's putative appalling vista was no more than simple truth.

No comments: