Examining Miscarriages of Justice in England and Wales



Miscarriages of Justice in Wales and England has long been a major problem encountered by many people. In many circumstances, Miscarriage of Justice resulted in the loss of lives or severe injuries to some innocent individuals. The most vulnerable people against the wrongful convictions were women who quickly develop trauma. Besides, women suffer because they were discriminated than their male counterparts, and this originated from the economic gap between them. Feminist believe that majority of the offences they commit makes them end up in prison and this differs significantly from those of men although such crimes are overrepresented. The errors made that would result in wrong conviction originate from eyewitnesses who do not carry out any investigation before reporting the matter to police officers. However, when the English Justice System realised that the accused person was wrongly convicted, then the affected individuals are compensated. The police officers in England and Wales had a perception that the Irishmen administered any explosions that occurred in any part of these countries. For this reason, any Irish Catholics leaving in areas around the scene of explosion became the first suspects, and they received arrest warrant issued to them. Several cases discussed under literature review indicated that majority of people accused of committing crimes are resulting from Miscarriages of Justice. The case studied, in this instance, are Guildford Four v. three Irishmen and an English woman.

The following recommendations need to be taken into consideration in both England and Wales to prevent Miscarriages of Justices. The police officers carrying out investigations need to undergo proper training on how to handle accused persons during the interrogations. Besides, the officers found to have forced the defendants to confess to being guilty should face the full force of law. Judges should also be cautious when making a verdict using uncorroborated evidence.

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Effects of Miscarriages of Justice in General and on Women in Particular

It is a normal phenomenon that many people have been wrongly convicted in the UK, and this is not limited to situations where there are some difficulties of qualifying the purported disputes of concepts. In such circumstance, there is universal agreement that the effects that result from Miscarriages of Justice may cause injuries and loss of lives to an innocent person. Regarding this, the English Justice System should compensate the affected persons. A Criminal Cases Review Commission created by the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 was mandated the duty of investigating the alleged Miscarriages of Justice indicated that injustices existed. Following this, there was an instruction to the Home Secretary to compensate the individual affected. Nonetheless, compensation may narrowly be awarded according to judicial acts under defined circumstances. For instance, in situations where a court violates an individual’s Convention rights. In such an incidence, the charges for compensation are directed to the executive but not the tribunal, judge, or court.

The Miscarriages of Justice Organisation has long been constituted to take care of the innocent people after release and those in prison. Such organisations are campaigning against the disparity in Miscarriages of Justice as per the current justice arrangements of both England and Wales. Take a decision in Hill in Brooks v Commissioners of the Metropolis where a witness, Brooks who saw the murder of his friend, Stephen Lawrence was considered a suspect by the police officer. The action taken by police towards him escalated his post-traumatic stress disorder that he developed at the scene of the murder. From the manner in which police officers treated the witness as a suspect, it showed that the Miscarriages of Justice witnessed by Brooks was because the perception of the police was that their activity would be distorted.

Nevertheless, the society needs to care about wrongful convictions. The errors made at such time results to conviction and execution of innocent individuals. It is a serious concern that majority of people confined in prison for a crime that they did not commit developed trauma that might ruin their entire lives even after being released from the jail. Not only has the person who is wrongly convicted suffered the damage, but also their entire family members were affected by the same incident. For example, the IRA bombed two “pubs” in October 1974 in Guildford, England. During the attack, five Army recruits lost their lives, and as a result, a 17-year-old English woman and three young Irishmen wrongly convicted. The four suspects were not given a chance to defend themselves, and instead, they were sentenced to life imprisonment. Moreover, they were released after spending 15 years in jail, in 1989 for a crime that they did not commit. Therefore, such circumstances are the situations that individuals can result in trauma. The criminal activities and victimisation of the imprisoned women have been noticed to be more severe than the actual offences that they have been accused of committing. A report indicated that more than 53% of those in custody are women and they undergo sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. The figure is lower than that in men that is 27%. However, the percentage of women reported to be victims of domestic violence was a bit higher, 57% or in situations of poor mental health. 

Similarly, another tragedy happened when 21 people killed just in seven weeks after the Guildford bombings in another bomb blast planted by the IRA in two other “pubs” in the centre of Birmingham, England. Some other 162 people also incurred injuries in the process. The saddest thing is that those convicted were six Irishmen living in Birmingham, and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of the 21 innocent lives. The suspects were wrongly convicted, and released after serving for more than 16 years in prison. The truth donned on the prosecution’s principle that their judgment towards the case relied entirely on false and coerced confession that was targeting Irishmen. The testimonies given in court were misleading, and the victims stand a chance for compensation. Following the two cases, a Royal Commission was formed under instructions of the British government to investigate the operations of the criminal justice system.

The Miscarriages of Justice is considered to be having effects on female than their male counterparts. Regarding this, there is a perception that all cases where women are considered victims of offence such as rape, the women police officers are given the mandate to conduct the investigation and female judges must prosecute their trials. The report titled Violence against Women (WNC 1985) captured by chief constable indicated that police across England and Wales are often siding with males in any judgmental regarding domestic violence. Therefore, from this report, there emerged recommendation that the law is changed to take into consideration that any rape issue within a marriage to be considered as a crime regardless of circumstance.

Feminist Views on Miscarriages of Justice

There is a general observation, which indicates that just like men, women are also violent towards their men. Therefore, the British government should desist from systematically dismantling the laws that protect men in favour of their female counterparts. At that time, the judiciary in collaboration with the British political establishment argued that men are programmed a manner that directs them to be violent towards children and women. Regarding this, there is a general perception that the treatment of women is lenient compared to that of men, which appear violent. The indication is that there is discrimination when it comes to the influence of feminism. Similarly, there are also men, and their interests are a marginalized. The feeling of men is that the designing of criminal justice system is to their disadvantage. There is an allegation by the UK Men’s Movement that their rights in marriage and the entire family have been destroyed by feminism, which in turn results in the prosecution of decent men. However, feminist views regarding Miscarriages of justice is very different from the perception mentioned above. For instance, women believe that most of the offences they commit that results into their imprisonment are directly or indirectly from the multiple layers of discrimination. Feminist believe that majority of the offences they commit makes them end up in prison significantly differ from those of men although such crimes are overrepresented. Concerning this, women believe that what makes them vulnerable to such offence are closely linked to poverty, which enables them to commit petty crimes such as theft, fraud, and crimes demonstrated through sexual abuse and other physical abuse. 

The other feminist view is that the police officers employ harsh methods of interrogating in cases relating to sexual and rape assaults. In such a circumstance, women fear to report those attacks because they feel that they might be accused of falsely. Moreover, the other feminist view is that any incident of marital rape by either a woman or a man is a crime that needs to be treated with the same force without any discrimination. The percentage of women who prefers to report rape case to a police officer as indicated in the report was 18. The other 72 percent of their response in the report stated that they hesitated to report their rape cases to police officers because they believe that the officers would not be helpful.   

Some feminists argue that Miscarriages of Justice skewed towards women can be adjusted through equality treatment where both male and female individuals are not discriminated. By so doing, there would be a balance in the circumstances surrounding the offences committed by women due to their possession of resources. Through such treatments, such women would be relieved from reoffending that may result in another prosecution. The implication was that women were considered poorer than men. For this reason, the current offences committed by women results from their continuing levels of poverty that leads them to crimes such as prostitution, benefit fraud, and those related to drugs.

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Literature Review/ Case Studies

According to Toolis (1990) dependence of eyewitness in making judgments in both England and Wales has resulted in the wrongful conviction of innocent people.  The most affected in such cases are the vulnerable such as women, children, and disabled. The inequality in resources distribution across all the gender disadvantages women who are believed to be poorer than their male counterparts. In such cases, the trials are not fair, and efforts are made to conduct a proper investigation. The confession that some accused individuals made were resulting from thorough beatings by the police. A clear indication was that the police officers had no knowledge and experience on how to handle terrorism and instead they torched people to find anybody to arrest to retain their jobs. For instance, one of the three Irishmen was forced to confess to a crime that they did not commit after being a force to admit. The laws used for the conviction of the four innocent individuals were unjust because their application was based on an actual violation of the existing law. For this reason, the UK and Wales are considered to be practising Miscarriages of Justice. The terror activities that the IRA group committed implicated the Britain’s large Irish community because they became the first suspects in case of any explosion. During such times, every Irishman became a suspect, and those found near the scene were arrested, and their files scrutinised to find any link with the bombers including their identities. The survival of the IRA was entirely managed through stealing and using drugs alongside alcohol. 

According to May and Corbyn (2017, p.1), Judith Ward was convicted for an explosion that occurred leaving twelve soldiers dead. The police without any investigation alleged that Judith Ward was responsible for the terror attack and this resulted in a wrongful imprisonment of eighteen years. It was quite unfortunate that the families of the slain soldiers were also murdered in the process of the attack (May and Corbyn, 2017, p.1). The action was taken by the police, in this case, also indicated the incompetency of the policy in carrying investigation to ensure that the person convicted is the actual offender. The arrest of Judith was in February 1974, and she was to serve life imprisonment. However, while the injustices were inflicted on Judith Ward, the IRA also executed the murder witnessed on the M62. The implication is that those police officers are unable to contain the terror group to bring offenders to book. During her arrest, she was accused of being part of Irish ancestry, and this could not be supported in a court of law because there was no evidence to prove the case. The decision of the Court of Appeal to quash was backed by the appeal indicating fresh psychiatric evidence. From her confessions, there was substantial doubt on the reliability of the case. The conclusion drawn from the entire accusation was untrue, and she was realised. Moreover, the IRA also issued a statement indicating that Judith had never been part of their team. 

According to Lockley (2016), a boy, Carl Bridgewater was killed by the government in 40 years ago after their emerged claims in a TV documentary. Newspaper boy Carl died at 13, near Stourbridge in Prestwood at Yew Tree Farm in 1978. His murder resulted in the wrongful convictions of four men. The convictions were ultimately overturned by an appeal court in 1997. Unfortunately, one of the four men died in the prison before the judges could hear his application for leave. Some of the suspects such as Bert Spencer were believed to be a subject of a documentary and this raised suspicion that he could be one of the murderers of the slain boy. 

According to McSmith (2007), Stefan Kisko was subjected to a wrongful conviction that saw him jailed in prison for 16 years. He later earned freedom when the real killer was identified and jailed for life. The victim, Lesley Molseed, 11 years old died in Yorkshire moors after being stabbed. The investigators found traces of killer’s ejaculation on her underclothes and indication that she could have been killed when resisting rape. The accusation of Stefan by Leeds Crown Court was because he suffered from mental and emotional collapse. The condition developed from the XYY syndrome in which there is an extra Y chromosome in male humans. However, such individuals are reasonable it is that they might develop some abnormalities in their growth systems. The other symptom of men suffering from this condition is being impotent. The shows that Stefan Kiszko was incapable of committing sex crime that he was accused of executing. His testes were completely undeveloped, and the condition could not be corrected since it was diagnosed at an old age when he was 23. It is only that his defence team did not use that fact at the time of trial and this what made him spend more years in jail. 

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Stefan Kiszko found himself in problems after two girls informed the police officers that he is the person who laid himself vulnerable to them. Regarding this, police concluded that Stefan Kiszko could be the person who killed Lesley Mosleed. The evidence produced by the two girls aimed at incriminating him. At that time, the police avoided any leads that would take the inquiries in the other direction. The police refused to allow Kiszko’s mother present when he was being questioned to help him avoid giving inconsistent information that convinced them that he was the prime suspect. Furthermore, the police officer conducting the investigation forced Kiszko to confess that he was the actual murderer cheating him that the confession might guarantee him a chance to go home back home and meet his mother. He then innocently confessed and retracted shortly afterwards.

According to Naughton (2013), the Winchester Crown Court wrongfully convicted Angela Cannings in April accusing her of murdering her two sons. The first son, Jason died at 7-weeks of age in 1991 while Matthew, 18-weeks-old died in 1999. Besides, the initial charges against Cannings were due to the murder of her first borne son, Gemma 13 years old in 1989. While in prison, Cannings new that she would never restore her life back as it used to be because of the problems she was expressing while in jail. Additionally, the relationship between Jade and her mother, Cannings started diminishing being that they stayed away from each other for many months. The Court of Appeal released Mrs Cannings 2003 after realising serious miscarriages of justice towards her. The evidence provided by Meadow was flawed. 

According to Holt (2010), a family of seven comprising of children and both their parents were jailed with an accusation that they were making a bomb. Among those convicted were Patrick aged 14, Vincent his brother aged 17, William Smyth, Anne Maguire’s brother, Guiseppe Conlon, her brother in law, a family friend, and both parents. Vincent and Patrick were given a sentence of five and four years respectively in jail. Unfortunately, Guiseppe Conlon did not serve his sentence like others because he died while in prison. Their uncles served 12 years less than that of the parents, which were 14. Since there was no safe, evidence the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of the Maguire Seven. From this incident, it is real that wrongful conviction can result in the development of trauma. For instance, a police officer whispered to Patrick during the arrest that he will never see his parents again and he will be old by the time he would be released from jail. The statement itself was reckless, and it made Patrick disturbed and started worrying that the arrest marked the end of his childhood. The investigators kept asking him to admit that he was guilty having been told about the charges that he was faced with to avoid being beaten up.

Patrick was bold enough and refuses to bow to the system of those who were torturing them although, having been locked with dangerous men, he lived a frightened life. His parole kept asking him to write apology letter indicating that he was sorry for committing the offence. However, he declined to say that he had not done anything of that nature, therefore, he had no reason of being apologetic for a crime he did not commit. The trauma he developed while in the custody made him indulge in crime activity with the mentality of doing revenge. He had accessed a gun and was wishing to get an opportunity of shooting all the police officers in a station. 

An observation can be made that majority of people experiences Miscarriages of Justice that result from the eyewitnesses having looked at all the cases reviewed above. In such situations, police officers fail to use proper investigation methods that ensure innocent people do not suffer on criminal activities that they did not commit. Consequently, police use excess powers to force the accused admit to having committed a crime, in order, to appear as if they are competent in extracting information from the criminals. The act makes the majority of the innocent people to be remanded in custody by a wrongful conviction. As a result, some people have died in jail because of thorough beatings from officers. Following this, Stefan Kiszko would not have been put in custody for more years had the police listen for his plea to answer questions in the presence of his mother. Therefore, having reviewed the cases mentioned above, their studies are as follows. 

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Cases Studies

The cases studied include Guildford Four v. three Irishmen and an English woman, the case of Judith Ward for the twelve lives lost, Maguire Seven, and Carl Bridgewater case.

Guildford Four V. Three Irishmen and a Woman

Facts: The criminal justice officers arrested three Irishmen and an English woman in Guilding, Birmingham alleging involvement in the bombing of two pubs in the city on behalf of the IRA. Seven people died in during the attack and several others with injuries. The accusation resulted in life imprisonment of the four individuals. Paul Hill was one of the Guildford Four, and he was the first person to be arrested having been suspected to be one of the terrorists who planted time-bombs in the pubs. Patrick Armstrong, Gerard Conlon, and the English woman were arrested later, and they joined Hill in prison.

Issues: Since the Irishmen planted the first few explosion that exploded in the cities, then the police officers have developed a perception that Irish communities could execute any terror attack in the city. The perception that made the police to arrest any Irish person leaving the scene area with the assumption that all possesses explosive devices. In fact, what misleads the police officers during the investigation is their reliance on eyewitnesses who give wrong information. They use the information to facilitate conviction of the innocent people. Besides, using eyewitnesses, the police officers also applied force towards to defendants to make them admit to a crime that they had not committed. 

The England police officers were linking Hill to be associated with the IRA, although he denied these claims alongside the senior provision IRA sources denying the same. Similarly, the accusation of Conlon was based on the fact that he was a childhood friend of Hill and, therefore, he might have been recruited in IRA. Armstrong on his part became a culprit because he schooled in the same institution with both Hill and Conlon though there was a gap of four years meaning that they had little things to do together (Schoeller-Burke, 2013, p.6). The prosecutors having seen him reuniting with his other friends they thought that he could be a recruit of the IRA who threatens the lives of many innocent citizens. 

Holding: The arrest of Hill since it was the first to be done two months after the bombing, it was conducted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1974. During that time, the state wrote an implication letter for Conlon to confess within 24 hours. The arrest of Hill was under Surrey policy drawn by an unverifiable tip by a military intelligence officer. Regarding the same system, the arrest of Conlon came two days after Hill had been jailed. On his confession after three days, he implicated Armstrong after thorough interrogations. Armstrong was then arrested on 3rd December 1974 when under an extreme drug induced state. At this point, he made self-incriminating admission following the pressure made by police.

Rationale: From the case of Guilford Four the reason for police to use force in getting the results understandable when dealing with ordinary crimes. However, the excess force used by police officers to extract information from the accused people makes some of them admit to a false accusation. Regarding this, the torture that Conlon received from the Surrey police officers during interrogation made him so distressed that recollecting became a major problem resulting in him confessing unknowing to the allegations. Conversely, police officers improperly took advantage when they interrogated Armstrong while they found him suffering from barbiturate withdrawal. At this time, he was not in his senses confessed as per the will of those officers. He was then taken into the custody.

False statements: During the submission of details concerning Guildford bombings, the Surrey police force played a very significant role. The written statement they submitted contained confessions made by the four criminals regarding bomb making and explosion of the two pubs. The information that police officers gave was a total contradiction of the reality. Some of the information they put in writing they had known nothing about it. For instance, they failed to mention the resemblance of bombs and the person who drove the car to Guildford. From this, someone could see the inconsistencies in the statements, and what can be drawn from this that the four individuals could have intentionally given the information to satisfy the will of police during interrogations. The intention of making such confession could be to end the torture they were subjected to during the investigations. Each of the four gave their separate testimony that their confession resulted from the pressure that was piled on them by police officers. They could not tolerate the pressure of the police. The implication is that they retracted the statements in court in the presence of lawyers. 

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Explanation: The fact that police officer went ahead to prosecute the four even after possessing the overwhelming evidence that was inconsistent, a conclusion is then made that there was something beyond the explosion. For this reason, such conducts could be termed as illegal police conduct in a Miscarriage of Justice cases where predetermined judgment could suggest somebody’s guilt. Such illegal behaviours may be drawn by focussing on the wrong actions of individual police officers. Moreover, the Surrey police force in their investigation used a worked up belief against the suspects by fixing them, and this eventually resulted in their prosecution. The implication having observed the false statement in the information submitted by an officer in court, the argument of someone could be that police knew that the four were innocent, but they wanted to scarify them pretending to have captured the offenders. Besides, it could be viewed that perhaps the accused had rubbed shoulders with the officers, so they were retaliating. Surprising, none of the officers who arrested the four could identify any of the suspects that might be innocent despite the weight of the contradicting evidence that they had the courage of manipulating and altering. Furthermore, the majority of those who were wrongly convicted new that they were innocent though they were enticed that after confessing they could get their way out of the prison and this was not the case. In all the false accusation, the most vulnerable group was the Irish Catholic society.

Judgment: The prosecution argued in his report that despite the accusation that Armstrong, Hill, Conlon was all member of Provisional IRA, the officer had not given substantial evidence towards the claims. Instead, the same officer produced false evidence that made Sir Michael Havers dismiss the 140 inconsistencies in the confession statements among the four defendants. The judges then argued that the inconsistencies could be because of the defendants’ lack of knowledge of the accusations made against them regarding bombings in the pubs.

The defendants were tried under the presumptions of guilt since they had earlier made confessions to commit the crime, and they were unable to defend themselves when asked by Lord Scarman and Lord Devlin to prove their innocence. According to Devlin and Scarman, if the four could not demonstrate the innocence of their confessions, then they are guilty. Regarding this, the defendants failed to convince the jury that they gave their confessions under duress. During the proceedings of the case, the summary of Mr. Justice Donaldson on the evidence he insisted that he was playing neutrality and the verdict lied to the jury. However, he Donaldson failed to warn jury of the danger that could be encountered when the decision is given when relying upon the uncorroborated evidence. Nevertheless, the case against the four relied upon the confessions made. In this case, it was for the jury to determine who lied between the accused individuals and police officers. Donaldson on his analysis of the case concluded that the four were guilty of the accusations. Following this, all the four were sentenced to life imprisonment. The emphasis that Donaldson made was that three of the defendants could have been executed had the 1965 Act that abolished death penalty could not have been introduced into law. The four then filed an appeal in the Court of Appeal that made a retrial without involving the jury. At this point, the Criminal Appeal Act constructed by the House of Lords minimizes juries’ role in any retrial. After new evidence had been produced, the judges in the Court of Appeal realised that there was a major Miscarriage of Justice in the case surrounding the four. The judiciary then started focussing on how to correct judicial errors. All the four were then released in 1989 when Court of Appeal threw away their case.

Comment: Having analysed the case of Guildford Four, what can be drawn is that the injustices towards a person can remain undressed for many years before wrong accusations can be made right. However, during such a period, the accused may experience many challenges such as being tortured to confess. Similarly, not everybody in custody is guilty of the accusations.


Since Miscarriages of Justices are becoming a common phenomenon in England Wales, police officers carrying out an investigation needs to undergo proper training on how to handle accused persons during the interrogations. Conducting this would reduce injuries that some innocent people encounter when being interrogated on crimes that they did not commit. The officers found to have forced the defendants to confess to being guilty should face the full force of law. Doing this without corruption would result in the elimination of rots in both the judiciary and the police force. Furthermore, judges should also be cautious when making a verdict using uncorroborated evidence. Alongside this, the verdict made by the jury should not rely solely on their judgment, but rather the advice from other judges. 


Majority of cases in court as products of Miscarriages of Justice, and it cuts across all the gender. Women appeared to be significantly affected by injustices since there is an economic gap between them and men. Regarding this, any explosion in England and Wales assumed to have been initiated by the Irish Catholics since there was a perception that they were the people who planted the first explosion in the country. In England, IRA was the group that bombed several pubs in various towns, including Birmingham where two pubs were bombed simultaneously killing 21 people, and 162 other people were left with injuries. Therefore, the police officers without conducting proper investigations that would result to arrest of the offender, they used eyewitnesses that led to wrongful convictions. The same was applied to some other case mentioned above. The unfortunate aspect is that an innocent person can develop trauma when accused to have committed a crime. The recommendations that can be made from a situation where Miscarriages of Justice are common include proper training of police officer to know how to interrogate suspects without influencing their thoughts or causing injury. Additionally, police officers who prosecute the accused person with inconsistent evidence should be taken into custody. 

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