Lorraine Allen, a mother who was the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice in one of the high-profile ‘shaken-baby’ cases, is taking her fight for compensation to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.
The ECHR has now confirmed that Lorraine’s case has been referred to the Grand Chamber of the Court, and will be heard on November 14th 2012.
Lorraine was convicted of the manslaughter of her four-month old son Patrick in 2000, after prosecution experts claimed the only explanation for his collapse was violent shaking or shaking plus impact. She was sentenced to three years imprisonment and a child born while she was serving that sentence was taken away from her and placed for adoption.
The conviction was quashed in 2005, after fresh medical expert evidence proved it to be unsafe and as a victim of miscarriage of justice, Lorraine applied for compensation but this was refused by the Home Secretary because her claim, it was argued, did not meet the statutory criteria. Lorraine challenged the decision by Judicial Review, but this was refused by the High Court in 2007 and the subsequent appeal was dismissed in 2008.
Mike Pemberton, partner and head of the Civil Liberties Unit at Stephensons Solicitors LLP represents Lorraine. He said: “This is the latest step in the long road to justice to obtain the compensation which Lorraine deserves.
“The fact that the case has now been referred onto the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights indicates the importance and complexity of the issues involved. Specifically, the European Court will be considering whether the presumption of innocence applies once a conviction has been quashed.
“The case has been referred to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights by its own volition. In the majority of cases, the Grand Chamber hears appeals from the lower chambers. The fact that the case has been referred there direct indicates the importance of the issues raised.”
Cases can be heard before the Grand Chamber in one of two ways: a referral or a relinquishment.
A referral request can be made by parties following the judgement of a Chamber but such requests are only accepted on an exceptional basis. A panel of judges of the Grand Chamber makes a decision on whether to accept a request for a referral. If so then the Grand Chamber will consider the case afresh.
In Lorraine Allen’s case, the Chamber has relinquished the case which is again exceptional. Cases can only be relinquished under the Court Rules where it raises a serious question affecting the interpretation of the Convention or if there is a risk of inconsistency with a previous judgment of the Court.
Notes to editors
- Figures from the ECHR indicate that in the period 1998-2011 only 110 cases where relinquished to the Grand Chamber by way of illustration, at 1/1/10 119,300 cases were awaiting consideration by the European Court generally.
- Mike Pemberton is greatly experienced in prison law, human rights matters and judicial review, and is recognised by Chambers UK as a leader in the field of Prison Law and Civil Liberties.
- Stephensons is a North West law firm with a network of offices across Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire. The firm has 30 partners and almost 400 staff, offering a range of legal services to individuals and businesses. For more information, visit www.stephensons.co.uk.
Media information: Lianne Tracey, PR Executive
Stephensons Solicitors LLP
T: 01942 774225