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March 29 , 2009

Conviction Of The Innocent


How the law can let us down 'The presumption of innocence is the keystone of liberty. Yet it is constantly under attack and is liable to be whittled away, particularly in times of crisis. It is for all thinking citizens to ensure that the presumption of innocence is a reality.' It is the foundation of Western legal systems that an accused person is presumed innocent until their crime is conclusively proven. Yet despite technological improvements - such as the use of DNA testing of suspects - grave miscarriages of justice still occur all too frequently. From the Dreyfus Affair to Lindy Chamberlain, from minor traffic offences to the worst sexual crimes, citizens have been wrongly accused and falsely convicted. Sometimes deliberate police malpractice has been the cause; sometimes a politically convenient willingness by governments and juries to lighten the burden of proof in order to achieve 'a result'. How can this happen, and - more importantly - why do we allow it to continue happening? With his characteristic insight and advocacy skills, Chester Porter QC argues that wrongful conviction is an issue of urgency, and that governments must do more to protect their citizens from miscarriages of justice.
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