Modern slavery and the media: What we don’t know can hurt us

This piece was originally published by René Cassin. Who has read about John Lewis and Habitat’s decision to stop selling a range of granite worktops over worries that slaves played a part in making them? When the news broke early this month, only The Guardian and The Metro gave it airtime. An imbalance is hardening in the British media. What the public knows about modern slavery relates overwhelmingly to the prosecution and conviction of criminals. But that’s only a fraction of the story – and, when it comes to slavery, what we don’t know really can hurt us. The more mugshots fill front pages, the harder it is to see the bigger picture. For newspapers chasing headlines, supply chains and victim protection rarely fit the bill. At the centre of Britain’s problem with slavery, though, are the hidden tentacles of networks that reach well beyond our borders. Modern slavery is as much about the businesses and …

One in five decisions by courts unsafe because of ‘misleading evidence’

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap. A new analysis of close to a thousand Court of Appeal cases over the last seven years has found that more than one in five decisions by lower courts (22%) were argued unsafe because they contained misleading evidence. The University College London study, which looked at the transcripts of 996 cases, also revealed that more than three-quarters of successful appeals (76%) were based on reinterpretations of the same materials available in the original trial rather than new information. Scientists Nadine Smit, Ruth Morgan and David Lagnado maintained that when forensic evidence misled judges and juries, it did so because of a misinterpretation of its relevance, probative value or validity. Their paper called on lawyers and expert witnesses to bring more transparency to the relationship between evidence and hypothesis, taking care to avoid ‘an erroneous understanding of the evidential value of evidence’. Belief in a …

New CPS guidance on joint enterprise ‘fails to get to grips’ with problem

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap. New Crown Prosecution Service guidance has ‘completely failed to get to grips’ with joint enterprise, according to campaigners representing prisoners and their families. Following the publication of new principles on how to deal with the controversial common law doctrine back in July, the CPS launched a consultation which closed last week. The campaign group JENGbA (Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty by Association) has collated responses including submissions from 17 joint enterprise prisoners and calls on the director of public prosecutions to back their call for a public inquiry. Under joint enterprise, a person on the fringes of a group in which somebody commits murder can receive the same mandatory life sentence as the perpetrator. In February 2016 in the landmark Jogee ruling, the Supreme Court held that the law had taken ‘a wrong turn in 1984‘. The judgment did not end joint enterprise – and the first tranche …