Majority Verdicts

At least 56 miscarriages of justice have occurred in cases in England and Wales where the jury was split, according to a charity, which says jury unanimity should be reintroduced to safeguard against wrongful criminal convictions.

The research by Appeal, the miscarriage of justice charity, says majority verdicts “arguably dilute the principle of reasonable doubt” and have facilitated miscarriages in cases including those of Andrew Malkinson, who spent 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit; Barry George, who was wrongly convicted over the death of Jill Dando; and Winston Trew, one of the Oval Four.

The true number of majority verdicts that have been overturned could be much higher but the data is not available – another issue the report says should be addressed.

Nisha Waller, a co-author of the report, said: “Had the jury unanimity requirement not been scrapped in 1967, Appeal client Andy Malkinson might have been spared more than 17 years of imprisonment. Two of Andy’s jurors were not convinced he was guilty, but their doubts were dismissed. The courts and the CCRC [Criminal Cases Review Commission] need to tally up how many overturned convictions and cases under their review involved jurors voting ‘not guilty’ so we can examine the impact on miscarriages of justice.”

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