Thank you to everyone who supported out fundraising effort for International Wrongful Conviction Day, we raised an amazing £1800.
Speakers: Stephen Cole, Louise Hewitt
Innocence Project London Director Dr. Louise Hewitt and Technical Director of Acume Forensic Stephen Cole examine the importance of CCTV footage/images as evidence in court in England. They discuss two cases to show how poor quality CCTV footage/images can be influential on a jury and can contribute to miscarriages of justice and wrongful convictions.
Please donate if you can
There are three strands to our fundraising this year, all of which will raise money for important aspects of our work.
1. Supporting exoneree John Huffington
John Huffington was convicted in 1981 at the age of 18 after being found guilty of a double homicide in Harford County, Maryland. He was given two death sentences plus 21 years. John always maintained his innocence. He spent 32 years, 2 months and 28 days in prison, ten of those years were on death row. In 2013 DNA evidence helped secure John’s release from prison following two trials, and numerous appeals.
John works for the Living Classrooms Foundation, at a time in his life when he should be thinking about retiring. At 60 years old, John has no pension. John often speaks about wanting to ensure that his ‘dash’ means something. He is referring to the dash that sits inbetween the date you are born and the date you die, representing what you did during your lifetime. Not only does his work give back to the community, but he consistently supports other exonerees when they are released from prison.
John attends the global innocence network conference every year, but unlike a number of exonerees in his position, he has to self- fund his hotel, conference ticket and flights. Attending the conference is the only time he gets to see and spend time with other victims of wrongful convictions but every year he has to stay in a different hotel and only attend part of the conference. In 2023, the Innocence Project London, working with the Baltimore Innocence Project are sponsoring John to attend the conference properly: this means staying in the conference hotel with his fellow exonerees, attending the conference in full and not having to worry about finding the money for his own flights.
John regular speaks to students working on the IPL and attends IPL events to raise awareness of wrongful convictions and how they happen. His story is unique, but the impact of his wrongful conviction is not and is something shared by wrongfully convicted people everywhere in the world, including in the UK. Stolen time has removed the opportunity for John to have a family, a career, financial security, the list goes on. We can’t give that back, but with your help, sponsoring John can help him fulfil the life he has now. John wants his dash to mean something. You can help him achieve that.
2. Casework manager
Serpil Tas graduated with a first-class law degree from the University of Greenwich. She volunteered on the IPL for two years and went on to successfully complete and pass the Bar course.
Serpil started working as Casework Manager in 2021, funded by some research money from Director Louise Hewitt. The casework manager is responsible for administration of the clients cases and also processes new applications. They help run casework groups and administer the organisation, screening enquiries from prospective interns and then managing those interns when they arrive. This work was previously done by the IPL Director alongside her teaching and research, but with Serpil in the role, the administration of the IPL has gone from strength to strength.
For the last six months of 2022, law firm Weil and Gotshal have funded a six -month contract for Serpil (to the value of £12,000) so she can continue in her role, splitting her time between the IPL and working at Weil so she is able to gain experience working in a law firm.
IPL students become employees who have professionalism skills and a commitment to proactive development. Time-keeping, effective communication, attention to detail, note-taking and managing paperwork are all developed on the IPL as transferrable skills to any profession.
We are raising money so we can continue to fund Serpil in this role. The administration of the IPL is role in itself and Serpil has certainly improved the application process and also the communication with our existing clients. Please donate what you can so the IPL can continue to process more applicants who have been convicted, and are maintaining their innocence.
3. The hidden costs
Approximately 131 students have engaged with the IPL to date. To date, ten lawyers from law firms and barristers chambers throughout the country have worked with our students. The IPL impacts the dynamic of Corporate Social Responsibility by providing a pro bono activity that supports a culture of investment in righting wrongs in the criminal justice system as part of a global innocence movement. Five qualified lawyers working alongside student caseworkers on separate cases have this year provided their service which would otherwise have been billed collectively for approximately £52,897. This means that for the five individual clients they not only received the benefit of a qualified lawyer working on their case, but they also received access to justice that they would otherwise have been unable to afford.
Administration of applications to the IPL costs money.
When we travel to see clients we travel by train across the country. Rail tickets can cost anything between £100-200 return tickets per person if we travel outside of London.
When we work with other organisations we have to ensure that our clients evidence is sent securely. For one client, the IPL recently had to pay £540 to ensure that CCTV evidence was securely couriered to the organisation that was reviewing it. For other clients we have had to returns boxes of case files, sending these by courier at a cost of £100 or more.
The IPL has to pay for these hidden costs. Please help us raise money so we can continue supporting our clients and processing applications to the IPL.