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The Lawrence trial

I have tried to avoid doing a post about the whole Steven Lawrence affair. I try to avoid speculation about trials that I did not attend. When a jury decides guilty or not guilty, I tend to accept that when I have no more facts about the case than the media see fit to tell me. If OJ Simpson is not guilty then so be it.

That should be the case here too, yet this whole thing has been so badly handled by the police, the media and Parliament that I have a nagging feeling that they may just have got it wrong.

Still, they were found guilty and I didn't intend to comment here until I had my look at the Daily Mail website this morning. Endless articles claiming full credit for the convictions, and endless cries that this is justice and the other three should get the same.

I'm sorry but this is far from justice. In order to get this verdict, double jeopardy had to be scrapped so they could be brought before the courts once again for a crime they had already been acquitted of.

Not only that, which is bad enough in itself, they did it retrospectively. After they had made the new rule abolishing double jeopardy, they then re-tried someone who had been acquitted before the rules changed.

The double jeopardy rule is a mainstay of the British justice system. It means that if we are found guilty of a crime we cannot be re-tried again until we get found guilty. Once the police have made an arrest and brought a suspect to trial, they fully believe they have found their man. If that man is then found not guilty, they no longer have to take the investigation back to the drawing board and find the real culprit, they can just keep going to trial until they get a sympathetic jury.

After double jeopardy was scrapped they didn't even bring in a rule that says the original jury must sit again for the re-trial. That at least would have been something.

Anyway, for someone who wasn't going to comment, I'm rambling a bit. I think this is a very dark day for all of us. In the quest for a successful conviction of two killers, we have lost something far more important; a vital protection of the innocent person from the state.

As a footnote, if any one is planning to say, "But if it was your [insert family member], you wouldn't be saying that.", then I will say this to you:
When I complain about the all the new laws being brought in so 'this doesn't happen again', or when I speak out against witch hunts for scapegoats when a tragic accident has happened, I always put myself in the position of the victim before commenting.
In this case, a boy is dead and his parents are grieving. If this happened to me then I would be demanding justice with bells on it, but only as far as it didn't harm anyone else. If my quest meant that justice may be denied to others in the future, then I would not pursue that avenue.
The scrapping of double jeopardy may have secured justice for Stephen Lawrence, but it pushed it further away for everyone else. That price is too high.

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