A London firm has made a scathing attack on the Crown Prosecution Service, which has settled a civil claim with a man who spent six years in prison for conspiring to pervert the course of justice but was acquitted after the Court of Appeal ruled his conviction to be unsafe.
Civil liberties solicitor Sasha Barton (pictured), of London firm Hodge Jones & Allen, said the case involving her client, 50-year-old Conrad Jones, raised serious questions ‘which go right to the heart of public confidence in the criminal justice system and the legal profession’.
Jones served six years of a 12-year sentence for perverting the course of justice by attempting to bribe, threaten and intimidate a central witness from giving evidence that would implicate his friends in the murder of Clinton Bailey, who was shot dead in 2005.
Jones had always strongly denied the charges. He was released on licence in 2012.
A press release issued by Hodge Jones & Allen yesterday states that it was only as a result of Jones's subsequent arrest for conspiring to pervert the course of justice, an offence of which he was acquitted, that it fell to different lawyers to review the disclosure of surveillance material dating from 2006/2007.
The firm says the material undermined the original prosecution and should have been disclosed at the time.
The substance of that material was then disclosed, with the actual material being subject to public interest immunity.
Jones sought retrospective permission to appeal his original conviction. His conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2014.
Barton was instructed by Jones to bring a claim against the CPS for misfeasance in public office ‘through their wilful failure to disclose vital evidence’, the firm said. Jones also claimed his right to a fair trial had been breached.
The firm’s press release also states that two men convicted for Bailey’s murder were acquitted last month after serving 11 years in prison, after their convictions were found to be unsafe due to the emergence of disclosure failures relating to the central witness’s credibility.
A spokesperson for the CPS told the Gazette that the CPS ‘has agreed to settle Mr Jones’ civil claim without admission of liability. The terms of the settlement are confidential’.
Barton said her client had been sent to prison for 12 years, serving six in high-security conditions with devastating consequences for him and his family.
She added: ‘Our criminal justice system requires prosecutors to disclose certain relevant evidence so that defendants know the case against them and can have a fair trial, and so that juries have the full facts at their disposal to enable them to reach a verdict.
‘To discover years after the event that the CPS, on the advice of highly experienced lawyers, has knowingly and repeatedly failed to comply with the criminal law on disclosure is shocking and raises very serious questions, which go right to the heart of public confidence in the criminal justice system and the legal profession.’