Monday, 9 July 2012

Ministry of Justice M. Walkers response to my email re COLIN NORRIS

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Judicial Policy and Criminal Trials

102 Petty France

London

SW1H 9AJ

T:020 3334 3555

F: 020 3333 444 55

E: general.queries@justice.gsi.gov.uk

www.justice.gov.uk

Judicial Policy and Criminal Trials

102 Petty France

London

SW1H 9AJ

T:020 3334 3555

F: 020 3333 444 55

E: general.queries@justice.gsi.gov.uk

www.justice.gov.uk

28 June 2012

Dear Mr Lowe,

Thank you for your letter dated 20 April, which has been passed to me for a response. Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding. Please understand that neither Government Ministers nor their officials can comment on or intervene in specific cases. However, I can address the general issues raised in your letter about Colin Norris.

The fundamental principle of our criminal justice system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and if there is not sufficient evidence to prove the alleged offence then the case will not proceed. It is the overriding duty of the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that the right person is charged with the right offence. They must balance factors for and against prosecution carefully and fairly. During the course of proceedings they must continually review the evidence against a defendant and must be satisfied at all stages that there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction on the charge in question.

There are also other important safeguards in the criminal justice system against the conviction of the innocent, including the high standard of proof whereby it is for the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, the right to legal representation, and the right to call any witnesses to challenge and test evidence through cross-examination. In addition, there is the right to seek leave to appeal against conviction or sentence.

It is an important principle that people who are convicted should have the right to seek leave to apply to a higher court to review their conviction and/or sentence. However, in Crown Court cases, an appeal does not proceed automatically. A defendant must first obtain permission or leave to appeal either from the trial judge or the Court of Appeal. The Court will not lightly intervene in a case which has been given careful consideration in the Crown Court, but if the Court of Appeal is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds it will give permission for the appeal to proceed.

The time period for lodging a notice of application for leave to appeal is normally 28 days. A purely discretionary extension of time for leave to appeal may be granted. However the defendant must explain why the application for appeal was not served in time.

I hope you find the above information helpful.

Yours sincerely,

M. Walker

Ministry of Justice

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Andy the Daft Hermit lives 45 minutes outside Inverness with his wife Mel in an old bus parked in a layby. This current home of theirs is the longest they have ever stayed in one spot. “I’ve been travelling now 25 years,” said Andy Lowe. “Mel’s been travelling 15. One of the reasons we’ve come and stayed up here is because of Mel’s health. I wanted to bring her to the mountains for fresh air and clean water and just a slower pace of life.” Mel has had breast cancer twice, skin cancer once, and for three years believed she had bone cancer after being wrongly diagnosed. Andy’s belief in the restorative powers of the north made them pack up ‘The Black Bus’ that they live in and cross the border into Scotland. New Highland home for hermit couple Andy and Mel “I think we both believe in trying to get to a more simple way of life,” said Andy, “but it’s strange for us because we are sort of hermits, or we like to live separate, but it’s not being anti-social… it’s just the way we are that allows us to be creative.” Andy first began travelling when he left the army. Fed up with bureaucracy he packed a rucksack and left for France and has been travelling ever since. By investing any money the couple have earned into solar panels and wind generators they now live a self-sustaining existence, without electric bills, and collect rain water “straight from Heaven”. “It’s not easy,” said Mel. “There might be time when there might not be enough facilities around, but you always find a way, you know?” Rather than rejecting technology, Andy blogs about his travels online and collaborates with artists from around the world via his ‘Scratchy Heid Film Studio’, which he runs from a static trailer next to the couple’s bus. He explained his philosophy: “My belief is that if you can go through life and you drop dead and you’ve got a balance there that slightly outweighs the good than the bad, you’ve done alright. “Yesterday, with what Mel’s been through with the cancer and all that, I had a woman on one of my sites there that thanked me for the writing, for the positive things, and to me that’s worth everything. You can keep your millions, we’re not interested. That is what we do.” To check out Andy’s artwork and video projects check out his website. MORE FROM THE NORTH

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