PROOF 6: How a watchdog lost its bite

From the latest edition of PROOF magazine. To buy your copy of PROOF 6 ‘The Other Ones’, visit

Miscarriages of justice in the UK: Criminal Cases Review Commission statistics laid bare

At the end of 2023, the Future Justice Project hosted a meeting of leading figures from the miscarriage of justice world – some had campaigned for the radical reform that led to the establishment of the Criminal Cases Review Commission and others worked for the watchdog in its early days. Jon Robins reports.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission opened its doors more than 27 years ago to fix the damage in public confidence to a justice system shaken by scandals such as the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, Cardiff Three and Stefan Kisko. The acquittal of Andrew Malkinson last year has put the body under more scrutiny than any other time since the ‘bad old days’ of the 1980s.

‘There has been a growing groundswell of opinion from committed and serious-minded people who worked for years at the CCRC in its early days, and others who dealt with it, that the organization has seriously lost its way,’ commented Glyn Maddock, FJP director and criminal appeals specialist.

‘The reasons for the decline of the CCRC are complex and haven’t been well understood. Any serious attempt to “fix the problem” needs to be informed by an understanding of what the CCRC was set up to do in the first place, why it was such a pioneering and radical innovation and how it’s been neutered over the years. We convened this unprecedented roundtable event to assist the ongoing reviews.’

The event took place at the offices of the international commercial law firm Simpson Thacher Bartlett and was chaired by the veteran journalist and former CCRC commissioner David Jessel. He once described the establishment of the CCRC, willed into being through the efforts of families and campaigners, as ‘the nationalisation of zeal’. Jessel presented both the BBC’s pioneering investigative programme Rough Justice and Channel Four’s Trial & Error before joining the commission for a decade in 2000.

‘What we need to do is find out whether Andrew Malkinson was an outlier,’ he began. ‘Mistakes happen, we all know that. That’s why we’re in the miscarriage of justice business – with the best will in the world, things slip through the net; but how much of what happened was
the inevitable outcome of the system as it is now?’

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PROOF is a new magazine shining a light on a broken justice system. PROOF issue 6 features a series of long read articles on a number of shocking and unresolved cases including the Birmingham Four, the Manchester 10, Oliver Campbell and Jason Moore.

To buy your copy of PROOF 6 ‘The Other Ones’, visit