UoBIP: Naughton and Tan interviewed in The Observer magazine
11 January 2011
Dr Michael Naughton and Gabe Tan of the University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP), were featured in The Observer Magazine talking to Sarfraz Manzoor about the role of Innocence Projects, and the involvement of the Bristol University Innocence Project in the case of Simon Hall. This was recently referred back to the Court of Appeal, and judgment on whether Hall will have his conviction quashed will be announced this month.
The work students do can enable a key piece of information to become apparent ... Even if the hours I put in only help a little bit, it's worth it.
Simon Hall was convicted of the murder of 79 year old Joan Albert in February 2003, and had his case referred back to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) in October 2009 following a series of submissions by the University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP). The appeal was held in early December 2010 and judgment on whether Hall will have his conviction quashed will be announced this month. Mr Hall’s case is the first case worked on by an Innocence Project in the UK that has been referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Gabe Tan, now Research Assistant in the School of Law and Assistant Director of the UoBIP, headed the investigation into Mr Hall’s claim of innocence throughout its time with the University of Bristol. As a law student she committed many hundreds of voluntary hours to produce various submissions to the CCRC over the years on the limitations of the fibre evidence claimed to link Mr Hall to the crime scene and the possible utility of new DNA techniques on biological samples found at the murder scene.
From the article:
"When the Innocence Project was asked to assist in Hall's case, our first impression was that this was a highly unusual case," says Gabe Tan ... She found that although the fibres found on Hall might have been "indistinguishable" from those found on the deceased's body, "indistinguishable" did not mean the fibres were an exact match: it simply meant the fibres could not be distinguished utilising the specific technique applied by the Forensic Science Service at the time.
"The more we researched, the more concerns grew," continues Tan. "We learned that the fibres are easily transferable and susceptible to contamination, that they were not collected from Hall's addresses until six months after the murder."
Read more in 'The Innocence Project: the court of last resort' (published Sunday, 9 January 2011)
The University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP), the first dedicated Innocence Project in the UK, is an extra-curricula pro bono legal clinic which teaches law through working on real cases of prisoners maintaining innocence. Established in January 2005 by Dr Michael Naughton, the UoBIP, which is also the founding member of the Innocence Network UK (INUK), is a collaborative venture of undergraduate and postgraduate law students working under academic supervision and guidance, where appropriate, from pro bono criminal lawyers, forensic scientists, and others.
Dr Michael Naughton obtained both his BSc and PhD from the University of Bristol. He teaches in the general area of criminal justice and the specialist area of miscarriages of justice in both the School of Law and Department of Sociology. He is the Founder and Chair of the Innocence Network UK (INUK), the umbrella organisation for member innocence project in UK universities, and Director of the University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP), the first dedicated innocence project in the UK, through which he coordinates student investigations of cases of alleged wrongful imprisonment.