Our hearts go out to the family of Sally Clark

The news of the tragic death of Sally Clark has saddened and angered all of us at the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (M.O.J.O.). Since the release of our founder Paddy Hill, and the rest of the Birmingham Six in 1991, we have been pleading with the authorities to set up a specialised aftercare programme to help counsel innocent men and women after they are released at the Appeal Court.

Since then there has been over 200 high profile victims of a miscarriage of justice and none of them have been offered specialised counselling. It is not as if the authorities are unaware of the need for such duty of care. As in the same year the Birmingham Six where released after 16 years, two men who had spent five years of wrongful imprisonment, along with their families and some campaigners where taken to R.A.F. Lyneham to receive four months of deep counselling by Professor Gordon Turnbull and his team. The only difference was that these men where held captive in a foreign land, their names, John MacCarthy and Terry Waites. It would seem, rather than face up to their responsibilities and help innocent victims of the state, the government continue to punish them.

Only this week, the judgement from the House of Lords, allowing the Home Office to claim back living expenses (bed and board) from their compensation, was just another vindictive act. One of the Law Lords remarked, not to charge them saved living expenses would be to “over compensate”; this man should hang his head in shame, as no amount of money can ever compensate for being wrongfully convicted. You lose everything of meaning and value, all of them will suffer from severe post traumatic stress disorders brought on by their wrongful conviction, and compounded by the sudden release from the appeal court.

At the present moment M.O.J.O. are trying to raise funds to build such a retreat, using the specialised, and shared experience, counselling, to help innocent men and women come to terms with the world they find themselves in. Which is a world where their lives have been ripped apart, a world where they don’t fit in and feel nothing. We write this with a heavy heart, at the unnecessary tragic death of Sally Clark, and pray that at some point those in authority will face up to their responsibilities. By setting up a specialised counselling programme to help innocent men and women, who through no faults of their own have had their lives ripped apart, and at least try and help them put their lives back together.

This was tragedy waiting to happen that, possibly, could have been prevented and our hearts go out to the family of Sally, and hopefully now she can rest in peace.

John McManus

project coordinator

Miscarriages Of Justice Organisation MOJO

for more info see www.mojoscotland.com