Hale starts fight for judicial review

Hale: calling for public inquiry

Don Hale, the editor who campaigned successfully for Stephen Downing’s release from a 27-year prison sentence for murder, is to ask for a judicial review of a decision not to release documents from the case to him.

The NUJ and the Miscarriage of Justice Organisation have said they will back Hale’s fight to get the documents after Barry Capon of the Criminal Cases Review Commission refused to give them to him.

Hale is asking for a public inquiry into the Downing case and for a reopening of the investigation into the murder of typist Wendy Sewell, whom Downing was originally convicted of killing. He claims new evidence has emerged even during the last fortnight.

Hale has clashed with Capon before during his six-year campaign to get Downing an appeal – which succeeded last month.

Two years ago, Capon disclosed confidential information Hale had sent to him to a potential suspect.

Hale hopes a judicial review of the decision would force Capon to give his reasons for non-disclosure and claims a time limit of 50 years has been set on the information’s release.

The Home Office has written to Hale to say it does not consider a public inquiry is appropriate at this time and that Downing himself appears not to want such an inquiry.

Derbyshire Police, said the Home Office, would decide whether to re-open the investigation.

It added: "We are confident that they will very carefully consider the Court of Appeal’s conclusions before deciding what action, if any, is required."

Hale said he has been in touch with Derbyshire’s Deputy Chief Constable, Bob Wood, whom he had found sympathetic.

In a statement, Derbyshire Police said Wood had had two telephone conversations with Hale about the murder.

"He welcomes Mr Hale’s contribution to our review of the evidence and facts surrounding the case.

"The police have received full co-operation from the CCRC but are aware of Mr Hale’s difficulties in obtaining their file.

"Mr Wood believes the release of information held by the CCRC is purely a matter for them," added the statement.


By Jean Morgan

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