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Innocent - no case to answer: But why won't the CCRC refer the case of Clive Freeman?

Updated: Oct 19, 2022

Clive Freeman

In this article, Bill Robertson delves deep into the CCRC's rejection of four applications by Clive Freeman, in his 35th year of maintaining his innocence in prison, for the murder of Alexander Calder Hardie. He details how 9 of the most eminent experts have totally demolished the pathology evidence at trial by Dr Richard Shepherd yet the CCRC have failed to refer his conviction back to the Court of Appeal. He concludes that in the case of Clive Freeman the CCRC is shown to be a mere lapdog of the CoA that was set up to, not to assist innocent victims to overturn their wrongful convictions but, rather, to guard against such wrongful and egregious convictions from ever being overturned. Moreover, that this serves to convince the general public to continue to believe the myth that we have the so called ‘best criminal justice system in the World’; and that the CCRC is a champion rather than an enemy of justice. Is this really behind the CCRC’s refusal to refer the case of Clive Freeman to the Court of Appeal? We would love the CCRC to prove us wrong!

On 8 June 2021, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) was asked for the fourth time,(1) to consider the case of Clive Freeman, one of the longest running miscarriages of justice in the UK. The CCRC yet again refused to refer the case to the Court of Appeal.

What emerges from study of the case is that Freeman was jailed for murder in a case where there is a substantial possibility that no offence had been committed,(2) where the deceased almost certainly died of natural causes. On the 2 May 1989, at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Freeman was convicted of the murder of Alexander Calder Hardie. Freeman was sentenced to life imprisonment with a tariff of 13 years; he has currently served 33 years’ imprisonment because he vehemently denies murdering Hardie. Mr Freeman was 44 years old when he was convicted; he is now 79 years old and suffering from prostate cancer.

There is very considerable evidence from nine eminent pathologists indicating that the pathologist who carried out the autopsy on Mr Hardie reached an incorrect conclusion that Hardie was murdered. At the heart of the issue is whether Hardie died of natural causes. The first autopsy conducted by Dr Richard Shepherd concluded that Hardie died from alcoholism and pancreatitis. However, this autopsy was kept secret and not revealed to the Court. Shepherd gave evidence based on a second and third autopsy and pronounced death by a technique known as ‘Burking’, supporting the charges of murder and arson brought against Freeman.

The CCRC are stubbornly refusing to refer Freeman’s case to the Court of Appeal on the basis that even if the forensic evidence given by Shepherd is totally wrong there are other circumstantial pieces of evidence that mean that the jury was entitled to return a verdict of guilty. However, this misses the point entirely– if Hardie died of natural causes there was no crime. This was a possibility that the jury was never given an opportunity to consider, because Shepherd concealed vital information about his first autopsy on Hardie from them.

The latest submission to the CCRC(3) makes two important points indicative that Hardie died of natural causes: 1. There is now incontrovertible evidence that Shepherd's theory - both in the autopsy and court - that pressure to the lower chest could produce asphyxia was science fiction. 2. Since Dr Shepherd's statement that death through kneeling induced asphyxia is now thoroughly discredited, the CCRC and Court of Appeal must accept the only other cause of death which correlates with known evidence and was presented at court - death through or associated with alcohol and drugs.

The alleged murder

Clive Freeman was a Rhodesian who lived in fear of reprisals from the despotic government of Mugabe. His prime concern was to provide for his family in circumstances where his finances were severely affected by Zimbabwean inflation. It is alleged that Clive Freeman had pondered an insurance fraud plan which was purely theoretical, and he shared his thoughts with his brother via recorded messages discovered by the prosecution. It was based around a notion to fake his own death and claim insurance money so as to assist his family. However, Freeman did not follow through with the hypothetical idea and failed to pay the first instalment on the insurance policy.

The prosecution alleged that Clive Freeman lured Alexander Hardie (an alleged tramp(4)) to his flat and murdered him so that he could claim £300,000 on insurance by falsely representing the body of Hardie as Freeman. Clive Freeman points out that the claim is absurd for the following reasons: Hardie was 5’ 6” tall and weighed 140lbs and had hardly any teeth due to disease. Hardie only had three fingers on his left hand. Freeman was six feet tall and weighed 200lbs and had all his teeth and fingers. Furthermore, Hardie was not a vagrant. He lived at 49 Glanville Road, Brixton SW2. Hardie was a convicted burglar; he was identified by fingerprints held by the police.

Freeman says that he was no longer living at his flat when Hardie died which, it appears, Hardie may have entered for the purpose of burglary or simply to consume whatever he found there. Freeman had left three bottles of whisky in the flat as a present for the landlord. Police photographs show that two and a half bottles of whisky had been consumed, presumably by Hardie. The prosecution pathologist, Dr Taylor said that Hardie had 392ml of alcohol in his blood.

After waiting five months for a passport to be issued and then waiting for a visa to visit the USA, Freeman left the UK on a long-planned business trip to the USA on 16 April, the same day that Hardie was discovered dead in the flat. It appears that contrary to what the prosecution alleged, Hardie, having entered the flat, consumed a large amount of whisky, fell over and accidentally caused a fire. His death was quite likely accidental and self-inflicted.

Freeman spent the night of the incident in a hotel on the other side of London from the flat where Hardie died. Freeman was very drunk and in effect passed out in the hotel room. He was in no fit state to oversee the alleged murder of Hardie. Additionally, the hotel receptionist stated in her evidence that even if Freeman had left the hotel without her knowledge, it would have been impossible for him to return undetected.


Following his conviction, Freeman applied to the Court of Appeal (COA) for permission to appeal. This was dismissed by a Single Judge. There was a renewed application to appeal to the full court, but this was again rejected by the Court relying (in part) on the evidence of Dr Richard Shepherd noting that the death of Mr Hardie was caused by suffocation referencing the bruises said to be on his body.

Perhaps, unfortunately for Freeman, his legal advisors told the CCRC in 2015 that Freeman had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012 and was seeking a last chance to clear his name. This possibly had the undesired effect of causing the CCRC to think that if they just stalled long enough, Freeman would die and make a reference to the appeal court by the CCRC unnecessary. The evidence outlined below makes it hard to reach a different conclusion, so perverse has been the behaviour of the CCRC in considering Freeman’s applications.

What we shall also see is the bizarre approach taken by the CCRC to the expert evidence provided by Dr Richard Shepherd who, in the years subsequent to the Freeman case, went on to develop a lucrative career as a ‘celebrity’ pathologist(5), lauded by such highly esteemed medical authorities as The Sun newspaper.(6) Shepherd qualified as a doctor in 1977 and conducted his first post-mortem three years later.(7) Shepherd trained as a doctor at St George's Hospital medical school at Hyde Park Corner and completed his postgraduate training as a forensic pathologist in 1987, not even two years before his evidence condemned Freeman to spend his life in prison.

Perhaps, pertinent to Shepherd’s outlook, was the fact that he trained under the flamboyant pathologist Iain West who was involved in a lengthy catalogue of notorious and sensational cases. Shepherd, in 2021, toured the country to promote his book,(8) as advertised on his own website. He was given his own Channel 5 TV series Autopsy. There is clearly a lot of ego involved in the Shepherd persona, which makes the behaviour of the CCRC towards him very odd indeed, as we shall see below. Freeman describes Shepherd’s testimony in Court as “like playacting; lurid, overzealous and melodramatic”.

The trial

At Freeman’s trial, the core of the prosecution’s case was the evidence of Dr Shepherd a newly qualified and inexperienced pathologist. This evidence focused on the cause of death of Mr Hardie; Dr Shepherd opining that the deceased died as a result of a mechanical asphyxiation using a technique referred to as ‘Burking.’(9) Dr Shepherd asserted that this technique was well known within the Rhodesian military, where Freeman had served. The prosecution argued that because of the applicant’s military background he had knowledge of the burking technique. However, after the trial it emerged that several witnesses who trained in the Rhodesian army at the same time as Freeman came forward to say that contrary to the case presented, the technique of ‘burking’ was not ever part of their military training and indeed, they had never heard of it.

In summary, it was the prosecution’s case that Freeman had planned to defraud an insurance company by updating a life insurance cover with Legal & General for £300,000 on his life and he then murdered Mr Hardie in his flat before setting fire to the flat in an attempt to hide the identity of the body in the hope that the authorities would think it was Freeman who had died.

Mr Hardie died on the 16 April. On the same day, Dr Shepherd carried out his first post- mortem on the body concluding that the cause of death was probably alcohol and acute pancreatitis. There followed two further post-mortems, the last one was on the 25 April (9 days after Mr Hardie died).It was after this final post-mortem that Dr Shepherd concluded that the cause of death was traumatic asphyxiation.

The defence case was that Mr Hardie had died from natural causes. The fire in the flat was not deliberate and importantly Freeman had a strong alibi for the evening Mr Hardie died. The defence made a submission at the close of the prosecution’s case that there was no case to answer (this went against the wishes of Mr Freeman, who wanted to give evidence). The defence challenged the credibility of most of the prosecution’s evidence, but focused principally on the evidence of Dr Shepherd. It was argued that the evidence that the death was caused by traumatic asphyxiation was not reliable and had been fully undermined by the defence pathologist. In short, there was strong evidence that Mr Hardie had died from natural causes. The trial judge rejected the submission ruling that there was sufficient evidence that a jury could infer that the applicant had murdered Mr Hardie.

Freeman’s alibi was that on the night of the death of Mr Hardie, he had checked into a hotel and was not in the flat. The hotel receptionist, Monica Barber, confirmed Mr Freeman’s alibi, making a categorical statement that it was impossible for Mr Freeman to have left the hotel and return that night without her knowing. The defence found a witness who confirmed that he saw Mr Freeman that night and he was very drunk. That witness (a doorman at a local club) advised Freeman to check into a nearby hotel and to “sleep it off.” This is what Freeman elected to do.

The prosecution put a lot of circumstantial material before the jury which mainly went to motive and what was said to be preparation for the murder. There was, however, no forensic evidence. The precise cause of death was not straightforward at the trial with both Dr Shepherd and Professor Mant, for the defence, having diametrically opposing views on the issue. It is worth noting that at the time of the post-mortem examinations, Dr Shepherd was very junior having been a pathologist for only two years. Professor Keith Mant on the other hand was a renowned pathologist of 44 years’ experience and was widely published on areas of pathology in particular asphyxiation.

By 2015, previous applications to the CCRC have relied on medical experts who have raised numerous concerns regarding the evidence of Dr Shepherd, his approach to the post-mortem, his record keeping and how he eventually reached his final opinion. Of particular importance was the failure to disclosure to the defence the notes of the post-mortem conducted on the 16 April 1988 (the first post-mortem). In these undisclosed notes, the prosecution and Dr Shepherd failed to disclose the finding of the post-mortem on 16th April 1988, whereby the conclusion was recorded as: “COD prob Alch + acute pancreatitis”, i.e., alcohol and acute pancreatitis.

However, at the trial, Shepherd made no mention of the alcohol and acute pancreatitis finding of the first autopsy and instead presented the theory of the far more flamboyant ‘burking’ concept, saying that the deceased died as a result of a mechanical asphyxiation using a technique referred to as ‘Burking’. Dr Shepherd asserted that this technique was well known within the ‘Grey Scouts’, within the Rhodesian Army, of which Mr Freeman was a territorial member.

Expert opinion on the evidence of Dr Richard Shepherd

At various times experts have given opinion on the cause of death of Mr Hardie. A number are regarded as world-renowned experts, and all are scathing of Shepherd’s ‘Burking’ theory. Central to Shepherd’s burking theory is the concept that great weight was placed on Hardie’s chest and that this caused bruising to his spine in three locations.

However, at the first autopsy Shepherd failed to notice any bruising to the spine and only mentioned any bruising after the third autopsy.

It is highly relevant to quote extensively from the findings of Professor Bernard Knight CBE. After making scathing comments about the lack of Shepherd’s attention to correct procedures, Professor Knight said on 19 July 2003:

There was bruising over the top of the scalp and over the spine in the midline, which Dr Shepherd says was in the lower cervical (neck), thoracic (chest) and lumbar (lower back) regions. However, on his body diagram attached to his report, Dr Shepherd has only marked two localised areas of bruising, one at the upper cleft of the buttocks and the other just below the nape of the neck.

Dr Shepherd does not appear to have taken any microscopic samples from the bruises, which would have assisted in dating or timing the bruises, to see if they were contemporaneous with the death or had been sustained many hours or even days before.

In common with Professors Crane, Mant, Milrroy and Dr Acland, I do not agree with Dr Shepherd’s interpretation of the injuries and cause of death.

There is an internal contradiction in his opinion, as he gives the cause of death as 'suffocation' yet claims the mechanism was due to compression of the chest.

The two entities are quite different, as suffocation is due to complete obstruction of the nose and mouth preventing entry of air, whilst compression of the chest is the prevention of respiratory excursions by pressure, even though the air passages are open. This is generally known as 'traumatic asphyxia' and one of the almost inevitable hallmarks of the condition is intense cyanosis (blueness) of the face, neck, and upper chest, with well-marked petechial haemorrhages in the eyes, eyelids, face, lips, and skin. In fact, these are more pronounced in traumatic asphyxia than any other condition.

They were completely absent in this case.

Suffocation may also produce such petechial haemorrhages and congestion, but far less often and may be entirely absent unless the victim struggled forcibly whilst his external air passages were being obstructed. The diagnosis of suffocation may be very difficult or impossible, where no petechial haemorrhages or congestion have occurred, which is especially the case in infants. Where a hand or other object, including fabric, is forcibly held over the face to block the nose and mouth for the appreciable time that is necessary to cause death, there may be bruising or abrasion of the lips or facial skin, damage to the inside of the lips and gums from pressure against the teeth etc. None of these signs were present in this case.

Thus, Dr Shepherd's stated cause of death as 'Suffocation' seems based on no evidence whatsoever, apart from conjecture.

Similarly, his contention that it was due to compression of the chest (which is at odds with his suffocation claim) has virtually no supporting evidence. There were no petechial haemorrhages or facial congestion, which in itself virtually rules out the diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia.

The bruising to the arm, chest and top of the head is utterly unlike the pattern that might be expected when a person is pressed downwards on to the ground to achieve chest compression. The one-sided bruises are dense and circumscribed and are most likely to have been caused by focal impacts, either from falling against hard objects or from blows. The latter is less likely, as one bruise is on the crown of the head - it is well-known that frequently inebriated persons commonly sustain bruising from falling about.

The only injuries which could be remotely related to pressure against the ground are the bruises on the back; Even these are not typical, as Dr Shepherds diagram indicates that they were on the nape of the neck at the cleft of the buttocks. He has not marked on his diagram any bruising which he reports as being 'lumbar'.

There is no bruising of the front of the chest, which may be seen from frontal compression, nor of the shoulder-blade region nor backs of the elbows, which I have seen in genuine cases of chest compression where the assailant straddles the victim and may kneel upon his chest or abdomen. There were no fractures of the ribs.

In summary, the deceased showed no positive signs of either suffocation nor chest compression - and the total lack of petechial/congestive signs is strong contrary evidence to the latter condition and provides no indication to the former. There is no evidence whatsoever for claiming that death was due to suffocation or compression of the chest” (emphasis added).

This opinion, from a renowned forensic pathologist had no impact on the CCRC. In 2000 opinion was received from Professor Keith Mant:

“Dr Shepherd has propounded that death was due to suffocation. Suffocation is defined as an obstruction to respiration at the nose /mouth level. There is no evidence of this in his report. What Dr Shepherd has said was the cause of the suffocation was (para 12 of his conclusions) compression of the chest by a heavy object whilst lying on the ground. This is not suffocation but traumatic asphyxia which results from pressure to the chest and abdomen preventing any respiratory (breathing) movements and is characterized by the presence of profuse petechial haemorrhages over those parts of the body not subjected to pressure.

Dr Shepherd also records that the bladder was distended by pale urine. I have never personally seen a death due to mechanical asphyxia with a full bladder. Directly the body starts to suffer from oxygen lack the urine present is voided.

The possibility that Hardie may have died purely from the combination of a high concentration of blood alcohol with therapeutic levels of drugs has not been considered by the prosecution. The interpretation of the various drug levels and the alcohol level is a matter for an experienced clinical toxicologist.

The changes present in the lungs are consistent with death having occurred over a period of time rather than suddenly. The picture which is seen when persons die from an injudicious combination of drugs and alcohol.

The Burns upon the Deceased.

The left side of the chest and the inner side of the left arm had been severely burned with the loss of the fingers of the left hand. The internal organs on the left side of the body beneath the burns were heat coagulated (cooked) indicating that the body had been exposed to heat for a long time, i.e., from a smouldering fire and not a conflagration. The type of fire and burn distribution seen when persons go to sleep or pass out from drunkenness when smoking a cigarette.

On 1 May 2012 Professor J Crane CBE wrote:

"I had an opportunity to study Professor Birch's report, and this obviously raises the distinct possibility that Hardie could have died as a result of the combined effects of alcohol and drugs. This is considered in my original report prepared in 2002 and I remain of the opinion that this could have caused death. A similar view was expressed by Professor Bernard Knight who, in my opinion, was the leading forensic pathologist in the UK at that time.

As you know, the original post mortem examination was carried out by Dr R Shepherd and, in my view, it was wholly inappropriate for the CCRC lo ask him to review the case since he was hardly going to change the opinion that he had already given in 1988. The correct approach to this case by the CCRC should have been to have the case reviewed by an independent expert and not by the pathologist who carried out the original autopsy and concluded that death was due to suffocation. It is quite clear from all the other expert opinions given in this case that the cause of death, as stated by Dr Shepherd was, and remains, still flawed.”

On 7 April 2017 a further opinion was received from Professor Crane:

“I have now had an opportunity to review the Provisional Statement of Reasons and I wish only to comment on those aspects of the report which relate to the pathology and specifically to the post-mortem examination carried out by Dr R Shepherd.

1. I am surprised that, once again, the CCRC has reverted to Dr Shepherd to clarify some issues in respect of his post-mortem findings and autopsy report. I believe that the CCRC has failed to adequately consider and address the serious flaws in the pathology evidence, and I am at a loss to understand why the Commission has failed to engage an independent forensic pathology expert to review Dr Shepherd's findings.

2. Dr Shepherd failed to disclose either in his report, or in court, that the bruises which were crucial in supporting 'his' cause of death were only found at the third examination of the body.

3. There was a failure by Dr Shepherd to properly document (size, shape etc.) and record, by photography, the significant injuries found at his third examination.

4. In view of the likelihood of post-mortem changes mimicking bruising, Dr Shepherd had an obligation not only to photograph the bruising but also to take samples for microscopy. His failure to do so shows that, in my opinion, the standard of his post- mortem examination was below that expected of a pathologist on the Home Office Register. The 'excuse' for not taking sections for microscopy is wholly unacceptable and demonstrates a failure by Dr Shepherd to (i) confirm that the bruising was indeed bruising and not post-mortem change and (ii) preserve sections for review by the defence which he had an obligation to do.

5. Whilst I fully acknowledge that Dr Shepherd may not have deliberately set out to mislead the court in respect of his nondisclosure, this in effect was what he did. It seems to me that his reason(s) for not doing so was to mitigate against any criticism which may have been made of him in respect of the conduct of his post-mortem examination and in particular in the conduct of the first examination of the body. Professor J. Crane CBE Professor of Forensic Medicine

Also in 2017, opinion was received from Professor Nicholas John Birch:

“The conviction of Clive Freeman is based largely on circumstantial evidence and the fact that the judge effectively negated the evidence of Professor Mant. It should perhaps be recorded that Dr Shepherd at the time of the trial had 2 years’ experience of forensic pathology and would, under the current system, be considered to be a trainee and requiring supervision of a more senior colleague. Professor Mant, on the other hand, said in his evidence that he had 44 years of experience in forensic pathology and in my view this difference in experience-should have been given some prominence. It is instructive that four further senior forensic pathologists have agreed with Professor Mant and have disagreed with Dr Shepherd.

I understand that the contemporaneous notes of Dr Shepherd made at the post-mortem of Alexander Hardie were not disclosed to the defence team at the time of the trial. Subsequent consideration of them has disclosed that at the post-mortem of 16 April 1988 Dr Shepherd concluded: "COD prob alc + acute pancreatitis". Also, in the first two examinations on 16th and 20th April,1988 there were no reports of bruising on Mr. Hardie’s back despite a specific examination in that area. These notes were not disclosed and therefore the defence were unable to explore when or why he changed his mind about the cause of death or about the appearance of bruising. Subsequently he found a more melodramatic cause of death but one which is not based on the recorded facts of the Burke case. However, this may have influenced the jury” (emphasis added).

25 July 2019 –the third request to the CCRC

Among other things the July 2019 submission to the CCRC quoted Dr Alexander Kolar:

1. There is now fresh evidence from Dr Alexander Kolar which challenges the central thesis behind Dr Shepherd’s opinion on traumatic asphyxiation. Dr Kolar is of the view that on all the pathological evidence no cause of death could be properly ascertained. Furthermore, Dr Kolar agrees with the previous pathologists who have given opinions on so called Burking, that this is an unreliable opinion and is no longer consistent with current literature.

2. Dr Kolar states that on the “pathological evidence alone, whilst a third party caused death cannot be excluded, there is little (if any) evidence to support that, and other plausible causes of death are present."

3. Dr Kolar is clear that the cause of death in this case was unascertained, and no safe cause of death could be provided. He went as far as to say: a final diagnosis of death being due to suffocation, crush asphyxia, burking or similar is not supported by the pathological evidence.

4. In respect of burking, Dr Kolar notes Dr Shepherd’s error was suggesting that there was sufficient evidence to support that diagnosis on the findings themselves.

5. Dr Shepherd stated the: “pattern of injuries is entirely consistent with compression of the chest by a heavy object whilst lying on the ground.”

6. Dr Kolar questions this hypothesis and is of the view that the pattern of injuries is entirely consistent with falls.

7. Dr Kolar concludes that: “The cause of death should be given appropriately as unascertained at autopsy examination”- in other words that Dr Shepherd (or indeed any other pathologist) would have had insufficient pathology evidence to state a specific cause of death and that “unascertained” should have been the correct entry for cause of death on the autopsy report.”

As previously submitted, Dr Kolar’s evidence should not be taken in isolation. There is now a plethora of expert evidence submitted to the CCRC over the last 10 years which profoundly undermines the evidence Dr Shepherd gave before the jury.

Improper evidence given to the jury

It is further submitted that Dr Shepherd went beyond his area of expertise when giving evidence. This was never challenged by the defence and not correctly dealt with by the trial judge. In examination-in-chief, Dr Shepherd said that he believed that some military units were trained to use methods of killing which left no visible signs. Dr Shepherd suggested that burking was one such method.

This is clearly not evidence within the expert knowledge of Dr Shepherd. This theory, however, became an important element of the prosecution’s case against Freeman. The prosecution inferred to the jury that as Freeman had a military background he might have known, indeed even been taught, this method. The impact of this evidence on the jury should not be underestimated. Dr Shepherd was not an expert in military training and the methods of killing employed in the military. This evidence should have been challenged by the judge or at the least by defence counsel. Failure to do so would have undoubtedly led to confusion in the minds of the jury.

Over the passage of time the CCRC has been given notice of extremely significant concerns with the evidence advanced by Dr Shepherd, including:

1. The content and the non-disclosure of the notes from the first post-mortem.

2. The doubts around the methodology adopted by Dr Shepherd.

3. The repeated criticism and questioning of his conclusions by a significant number of pathologists.

4. That Dr Shepherd has since the trial expressed unhappiness with the concept of ‘burking’ when previously questioned by the CCRC.

The question is, did Dr Shepherd settle upon the highly imaginative concept of ‘Burking’ as cause of death of his own volition, or did the police/prosecution pressure him to change his original finding of death caused by alcohol and acute pancreatitis? How did the inexperienced Dr Shepherd alight upon the notion that the highly unusual act of Burking had taken place?

Where did the information come from that Clive Freeman had been in the Rhodesian Army ‘Grey Scouts’ and who suggested that the technique of Burking was used by them? Who instructed Dr Shepherd to hide the existence of his first autopsy notes from the court? Or did he decide to conceal the notes of his own choice?

We either have a straightforward case of alleged perjury or potentially a more sinister conspiracy to pervert the course of justice involving pathologist, police and prosecution. At the very least, Dr Shepherd should be required by the CCRC to clarify these matters with a police investigator under caution as it appears that such an investigation is called for.

The fourth submission to the CCRC

Freeman’s legal advisors, Swain and Co. solicitors submitted the fourth request to the CCRC in June 2021. Professor Bernard Knight clearly remains very concerned about the Freeman case and he has submitted further evidence in support of a referral. Additionally, evidence has now been submitted from pathologists Dr Karch and Professor Kroll from the USA, where there is far greater experience of instances of police use of ‘kneeling induced asphyxia’, i.e., as in the case of George Floyd.

This is not simply a rehash of the previous application. Attached to this submission are the following reports not previously considered by the Commission:

· A letter from Professor Knight dated 15th March 2021. · A letter from Dr Karch dated 7th November 2020. · Letter from Professor Kroll dated 31st October 2020.

1. Professor Knight has provided a supplementary report to his 2003 report. He is very clear that: “any expert forensic pathologist called by the CCRC or the Court of Appeal would arrive at the same conclusion - that Dr Shepherd’s assertion that death was caused by a deliberate act of chest compression is untenable and unsafe on the basis of proper forensic consideration of the inconclusive evidence available.” Statements such as these cannot be taken lightly as to deem an aspect of a case as “unsafe” goes to the very core of why appeal processes are so essential.

2. This is not a case of a fishing exercise in respect of experts, but because of a genuine concern from a significant number of credible pathologists (including the three whose evidence is attached to this application) that Dr Shepherd got it wrong. As Professor Knight states: “the cause of death which he (Dr Shepherd) offered as ‘suffocation’ is incompatible with his mistaken belief in ‘pressure on the chest’, as these two conditions are universally known to be due to quite different mechanisms.”. It is hard to fathom how such a contradiction within the evidence has been so readily accepted and used to uphold the conviction. We believe that there are strong grounds for further thorough investigation to take place.

3. The CCRC is well acquainted with the multiple detailed challenges from eminent specialists in pathology and toxicology to Dr Shepherd's medical evidence and conclusions. It is not intended to repeat them at length here, but they include:

· insufficient sampling and recording of evidence, including all those to the rear of the body (most notably the lack of disclosure of post-mortem photographs to validate the dissection evidence that was heavily relied upon); · failure, as a young and still relatively inexperienced pathologist to seek second opinions or a second pair of qualified eyes on his work and findings; · confusing and poor recording of events and finding sat the various autopsies; · failure to disclose his initial view that death was probably accidental, through reaction to alcohol poisoning; and, · unsubstantiated conclusions of cause of death based on insufficient evidence.

4. It has been generally argued by multiple experienced Defence pathologists that Dr Shepherd could not have ascertained the actual cause of death on the evidence available, meaning his conclusion which played a large part in Mr. Freeman’s conviction may not be entirely credible.

5. The CCRC has refused to appoint an expert pathologist to review this material and advise them accordingly on its merits, despite the conflicting evidence.

6. However, close reading of the various commentaries by the CCRC on his medical evidence indicate that they WOULD accept and support a referral for appeal if one or more of the following tests are satisfied. These tests are drawn from the CCRC's 2017 statement of reasons:

i) (There needs to be) "such a shift in weight in terms of the pathological evidence that there can be no conclusion other than that Dr Shepherd's opinion was entirely erroneous and should never have been put to the jury for their consideration" {para 130 of its second statement of reason} or,

ii) A "reliable independent basis on which the Commission can conclude that Dr Shepherd's opinion on the death of Mr Hardie, which he continues to stand by, was an entirely invalid one." {Ibid} or,

iii) An irrefutable challenge against "his explanation of the timings of when the deceased incurred the bruises...The CCRC concludes that this important aspect of Dr Shepherd's evidence cannot be overlooked when considering the potential impact." {Para 121, ibid} or,

iv) Dr Shepherd's reputation and credibility has been compromised by investigations or disciplinary proceedings of sufficient gravity in previous cases or in relation to general conduct to compromise his credibility and that of his evidence.

7. We submit that our fresh evidence allows referral on each of the first three separate grounds.

The Kroll and Karch evidence– Chest compression and minimal force

8. In the last 30 years there have been several cases, especially in the United States, where people died under police restraint. So called 'positional asphyxia' became hotly debated. The recent Kroll studies debunk the myth that restraint positions, including specifically kneeling to or pressure on the chest, in themselves cause asphyxia. The recent "I can't breathe case" is an example. Mr. George Floyd died after police restraint. However, it now seems clear that it was kneeling on/across the neck itself and NOT kneeling on the chest that caused asphyxia.

9. Professor Mark Kroll, an expert in biomechanics, has reviewed the case (letter attached). He explains by reference to a series of respected studies that a single man, even with his full body weight, cannot exert sufficient pressure to induce asphyxia in another by chest pressure alone. The available force is only around 10% of that required to cause death and even if both knees were used in the compression, the force would still be insufficient. He concludes that the coroner’s (by whom he means Dr Shepherd) “opinion of chest weight causing asphyxia in this case, is contrary to present scientific knowledge.”

10. Dr Steven Karch, a pathologist and toxicologist, (letter attached) also explains why it is not possible, as alleged in court, for a man to kill another by inducing asphyxia by kneeling. He also reveals that tests used in the 1980s for testing the true level of drugs in a burned cadaver are now discredited and no longer acceptable forensic practice. He also explains that recent medical advances (including use of molecular analysis) now enable the identification of causes of death which would not have been available in the 1980s. He concludes: “Based upon my own scientific research and case experience, and the total lack of scientific data to the contrary, I totally reject Dr Shepherd's repeated assertion that a man can be asphyxiated with minimum force quite quickly by kneeling pressure to the low chest alone (where there is no evidence of flail chest (i.e., multiple broken ribs).”

11. The fact that multiple pathologists have not only questioned but fully denied that the alleged cause of death is plausible, cannot be disregarded lightly without thorough investigation.

12. We attach the original studies for reference and the following "layman's" commentary to assist the CCRC. Kroll's 2018 paper used historical, volunteer and test rig research to explain that:

a. Chest pressure alone would not cause death until massive weights/pressures (over 280 kg) were applied.

b. When death did occur, it was flail chest (multiple broken ribs, no longer able to resist the pressure) which was required for death to happen. Hardie did not have flail chest.

c. Kroll 2019, written with Dr Karch and others, produced detailed data from police and other records to support that argument. It found:

§ No cases of "knee compression alone" deaths, if only for the simple reason that one - or even two - police officers would be unable exert sufficient pressure. This underpins the previous study/methods/findings.

§ Went further in demonstrating that it did not make any difference whether the people being restrained had drugs and alcohol in them.

d. In Ross and Hazlett's study of 110,000 US arrests, 1085 incidents resulted in prone positioning. Lasoff et al report that of 2431 force incidents, 1535 subjects (63%) ended up being placed in a prone-restraint position. Approximately 80% of resistant subjects have comorbidities of mental illness, drug abuse, or intoxication (most have ≥2 of these). In Canada, Hall et al reported on 3.25 million consecutive police-public interactions; force was used with 4828 subjects (0.1% of police-public interactions) and 82% exhibited alcohol or drug intoxication or emotional distress at the scene. More than 2000 subjects remained prone after handcuffing. Despite these significant comorbidities, these studies reported no deaths linked to prone restraint."

13. Credible and proven evidence therefore demonstrates that chest compression at the levels cited does not cause death. It is also noteworthy that this material also removes any suggestion that Hardie had drugs and alcohol in him which might have made him more prone to asphyxiation. Indeed, we note that Dr Shepherd never specifically made that argument himself, in either the autopsy or his court evidence. He refers in several places to Hardie’s intoxicated state, but only to make the case that Hardie would not be able to defend himself or resist asphyxiation brought on by lethal chest pressure.

14. An earlier Commissioner shared concerns raised by the numerous Pathologists who have supported Mr. Freeman’s application. Within the telephone call the CCRC had with Dr Shepherd on 24th October 2016, the CCRC Commissioner, Mr David Smith, made the comment “that there was a lack of pathological evidence from someone who had been asphyxiated.” This is of course echoed within the report submitted by Dr Kolar who clearly opines:

pathological evidence alone, whilst a third party caused death cannot be excluded, there is little (if any) evidence to support that, and other plausible causes of death are present.

“a final diagnosis of death being due to suffocation, crush asphyxia, burking or similar is not supported by the pathological evidence.”

15. Dr Karch within his November report clearly states: “Based upon my own scientific research and case experience, and the total lack of scientific data to the contrary, I totally reject Dr Shepherd's repeated assertion that a man can be asphyxiated with minimum force quite quickly by kneeling pressure to the low chest alone (where there is no evidence of flail chest i.e. multiple broken ribs).”

16. Taken together these provide incontrovertible evidence that Shepherd's theory - both in the autopsy and court - that pressure to the lower chest could produce asphyxia was science fiction. Kroll and Karch's material is science fact and is now the "gold standard" on this issue.

The need for independent expert pathology review to assist the CCRC/Court of Appeal

17. The CCRC has never taken the approach of instructing its own Pathologist and we would invite the Commission to do so, especially as Professor Knight points out: “Few forensic pathologists would see more than a handful of cases [traumatic asphyxia] during their career, especially in Great Britain, and much of the relevant literature on the subject has come from America.

18. We are very concerned that the Pathological evidence advanced by Dr Shepherd has effectively stood and avoided intensive scrutiny, despite the significant weight of credible evidence that his evidence was misleading to the jury in respect of the cause of death and the bruising.

19. There were clearly other possible causes of death, which fitted with Mr. Hardie’s own health issues and the surrounding circumstances. Dr Karch and Professor Knight both point to this.

20. We submit that, since Dr Shepherd's statement that death through kneeling induced asphyxia is now thoroughly discredited, the CCRC and Court of Appeal must accept the only other cause of death which correlates with known evidence and was presented at court - death through or associated with alcohol.

New evidence on the lethal effects of excessive alcohol and arterial narrowing

21. The Heatley/Crane report 1990 explains that death from alcohol or associated with alcohol can kill from 150 micrograms upward. Hardie had 270 mg. It also deals with the issue of Hardie being a hardened drinker and therefore possibly less prone to alcohol death. It states that while habitual drinkers may have more tolerance (or less efficient kidneys) where habitual drinker deaths DO occur at lower levels this is usually well AFTER they have reached peak intoxication and during the so-called excretory phase (as the body/liver etc. fight to clean up/reduce blood alcohol). Hardie had urine levels of 290 mg so we know he was in this phase. Heatley et al's findings support Professor Birch's findings - Hardie could have reached peak alcohol levels many hours before death (up to seven, it seems) and spent the rest of the time slowly dying with the alcohol "clock" stopping at 270mg blood, 290 mg urine.

22. Mr. Hardie's death from alcohol etc. now appears to fall well within accepted levels, which are much lower than Shepherd and others may have thought at the time.

23. Professor Knight also highlights an important discrepancy in evidence surrounding the narrowing of the coronary artery. In Dr Shepherd’s initial “naked-eye” examination, he estimated the narrowing of the left anterior coronary artery was at 70% - a level which is potentially life-threatening and compatible with cardiac arrest or fibrillation. Upon microscopic inspection, he revised his estimation to 40% which is generally non-fatal. The issue arises that a naked-eye inspection tends to be more accurate than a microscopic one – a distinction that was not made clear to the Judge or jury, leading them to mistakenly believe that the second estimate was more accurate, thus leading them to rule out potential cardiac arrest. This is a significant concern as a realistic explanation was needlessly dismissed out of error.

New research demonstrating that false evidence was supplied on the “age” of bruises

24. Dr Shepherd claimed that there were "contemporaneous bruises" which he knew were made at or near the time of death (“closely associated with the time of death” – Transcript Page 56 et al). This relates to the CCRC's third "test". We submit proof that Dr Shepherd's evidence was false. Studies in the 1990s showed that it was not possible to date or age a bruise. The bruises on Hardie could be caused at separate times and in places at any point in the previous 36 hours and there is no way that judging from appearance (or indeed any other technique then available) that a pathologist could ever say they were contemporaneous or close to (or indeed far from) the time of death.

25. A complete explanation is provided in Mr McNicol's report [not an expert report]of November 2019 which has the relevant report ("Langloss et al 1990) embedded [!AlzUj4bIoATdgaIVzO-pTVxNQ46JTQ].

26. Even more worryingly, this knowledge was spelt out explicitly and unequivocally in the reference book which Dr Shepherd himself consulted in this case (Pathology Essentials, Polson, Gee and Knight1985). In pages 104 to 105 the book states that it is impossible to age a bruise within hours or even days and this had been known since the 1950s (See Annex).

27. It follows that Dr Shepherd either did not know or crassly neglected his own reference material in falsely stating he had such evidence. This meets CCRC criteria 3 above and, had this information been exposed at court, would probably have resulted in the disciplinary action required in criteria 4.

Bruising falsely claimed to be caused by chest pressure

28. Professor Knight also explains that one of Dr Shepherd's key claims (in both autopsy report and court evidence) is wrong. Dr Shepherd claimed that the “bruise” to the neck was at a low point which would be brought into contact with the ground through chest pressure. Professor Knight describes how the bruises were shown in diagrams to be confined to the cervical sixth and seventh and thoracic first and second vertebrae, the area of the spine that Dr Shepherd submitted is at the lowest point of the supine man. This is undeniably false as the lowest point is actually several vertebrae lower – a fact that cannot realistically be disputed.

“the apparent bruise location to the neck is NOT at the lowest point and is not naturally in contact with a flat floor pressure to the lower chest or abdomen would not bring these vertebrae into contact with the ground (indeed, in our understanding, low chest pressure would bring this area away from, not in contact with, the ground)the “bruise” at the base of the spine is so far removed from the chest that it could never reasonably be concluded to be caused by chest pressure.”

29. No deformity in the spine was ever disclosed, meaning it can easily be concluded that the bruised vertebrae would not have naturally come in to contact with the floor, even if the person’s lower chest were being compressed. He also explains that the area of the low spine is so far removed from the chest that it could never reasonably be concluded that chest pressure would cause a bruise in this area. The conclusion that the bruising indicated chest compression, therefore, is illogical as well as unsubstantiated. Professor Knight concludes that a deduction of bruises to the neck and lower spine being caused by chest compression is: “entirely speculative and not based on appropriate consideration of the evidence.”

30. It must also be recorded that, had the CCRC appointed a forensic pathologist to advise them, these and other facts would have been immediately pointed out to them and in all probability the CCRC tests could have been passed as far back as 2001, resulting in referral 19 years ago.

Required investigation/disclosure

31. Dr Shepherd in court indicated he had not undertaken histology examination of the bruises. Professor Knight considers that, if this is correct, this represents a failure in accepted professional practice at the time which denied evidence to subsequent examiners. He notes:

While it seems improbable that Dr Shepherd would have undertaken histology of the bruises and then decided not to examine the slides, it would be worth ruling out this possibility (with Dr Shepherd and with St Georges Hospital) given the potential significance as evidence even now.”

This is an area for investigation by the CCRC.

32. We are concerned that:

i. There appears to be no contemporaneous record to support Dr Shepherd’s findings or "hypothesis”.

ii. There appear (at present) to be no photographs showing the back or neck "bruise", or the alleged back dissection, that has caused so much dispute.

iii. In the absence of such material, it is perfectly possible that Dr Shepherd in 2016 was not working from memory but simply reassessing what he might have done, or thought, and there is absolutely no proof that this is what he did, making it questionable evidence to rely so heavily on.

33. We ask the Commission to disclose copies:

a. Of any photographs the CCRC hold of Mr Hardie's back and the dissection or otherwise of the bruises to neck and low spine.

b. Post-mortem pictures from police referenced within the telephone call between CCRC and Dr Shepherd in 2016, particularly of the 3rd post-mortem. It is understood the name of the photographer was Mark Enticknap.

c. The examination notes of the post-mortem from the 3rd post-mortem be disclosed. Mr Freeman is adamant these were never disclosed in advance of his trial and to date have not been disclosed.

34. We ask the Commission to confirm whether it has seen and refused to disclose the deceased medical records [The CCRC have consistently stated that the victim was not a smoker, with no basis provided for this assertion and just regurgitated this through previous decisions. We submit that Hardie was a regular smoker, and medical records and background would have provided this information].

CCRC treatment of the retracted witness statement

35. We have concerns that the CCRC has in its previous reviews failed to properly investigate the eyewitness statement of David Taylor, which was in essence the only evidence placing Mr Freeman near the scene at night/time in question. The Court of Appeal (in rejecting Mr Freeman's original appeal) made specific reference to the significance of that eyewitness statement.

36. The CCRC have neither sought to try and interview David Taylor or sought any background corroboration on his claims. The CCRC has not referenced the “similar cases” they took into account, nor demonstrated any points of similarity with Mr Freeman’s case, when reaching their decision.


37. The judge in this case instructed the jury on how to deal with the trial medical evidence on the belief that Dr Shepherd was a credible expert, and his conclusions were well founded, supportable and credible. We have demonstrated that they were not and neither death, nor key alleged bruising associated with it, would result from the alleged chest pressure.

38. We share Professor Knight’s concern that the key points around Dr Shepherd’s methods were not directly discussed with Dr Shepherd during the 2016 meeting and the CCRC has not independently consulted a pathologist to establish a view as expected.

39. It is evidently clear on any look of the case the lack of pathological evidence around asphyxiation is extremely concerning. The concerns are acute when considering the lack of disclosure in this case and the way in which further material has been produced by Dr Shepherd post-conviction in questioning his conclusion, which the defence were not able to put in front of the jury.

40. The CCRC should have had at the forefront of its mind that Dr Shepherd first concluded the deceased died of natural causes. The manner in which his view changed and with the post-conviction disclosure in hand, the defence could have questioned Dr Shepherd more robustly and put the case more strongly to the jury as to why they should have rejected his evidence. It is worth reiterating that the jury were not aware at all of Dr Shepherd’s first conclusion, this is in clear breach of his disclosure duties and would have instrumentally changed the way in which Dr Shepherd’s evidence was dealt with.

The CCRC’s stance

To recap, Dr Shepherd carried out three post-mortem examinations on Mr Hardie on 16th April 1988, 20th April 1988, and 25th April 1988. He produced a report on these autopsies dated 8th June 1988 concluding that the deceased died of mechanical asphyxiation, which the prosecution used in conjunction with Mr Freeman’s past as a member of the military. However, the prosecution and Dr Shepherd failed to disclose the notes of his post-mortem on 16th April 1988, whereby the conclusion was recorded as “COD prob Alch + acute pancreatitis”.

The undisclosed notes revealed that Dr Shepherd came to a very different conclusion to that of the third autopsy some 9 days later, that the deceased died from probably alcohol and acute pancreatitis. Not only is the cause of death so substantially different, but Dr Shepherd also failed to disclose this first conclusion despite having ample opportunities to place this before the Court and during the extensive cross examination at trial. During examination, Dr Shepherd stated that “in my opinion, Alexander Calder Hardie has no significant natural disease that could have caused his death at that time.” He made no mention of his initial conclusion that alcohol and acute pancreatitis was to blame, and this statement appears to be a blatant mistruth.

Notwithstanding the catastrophic failure of the prosecution to disclose the notes, the CCRC has consistently failed to regard this as a ground for potential appeal. It is indisputable that these notes significantly undermine the prosecution’s case and would have undoubtedly if disclosed raised considerable doubt in the Jury’s minds.

In Mr Freeman’s case, despite Professor Mant at trial raising considerable doubt on the evidence put forward by the prosecution, and notwithstanding the 8 pathologists that have now all raised numerous concerns regarding the evidence of Dr Shepherd, the CCRC have

not only failed to refer the case back to the CoA on this fresh evidence, but they also failed to instruct an independent pathologist to examine the case.

Indefensibly, the CCRC in Mr Freeman’s second application went back to Dr Shepherd for his comments on the case and continue to rely on Shepherd to refute the multitude of criticisms received from far more experienced pathologists. In cognizance of its statutory remit, the CCRC is duty bound to undertake a wholly objective assessment of any application under the Criminal Appeals Act 1995. By going back to the expert in the case that numerous pathologists have challenged, where there is a justifiable suspicion of perjury, the CCRC have failed to comply with that duty.

In submitting Mr Freeman’s fourth application to the CCRC, his. legal representatives suggest that Dr Shepherd's evidence was ·at the "core" of the prosecution's case and was its "essence". Further, at paragraph 28 of the submissions, it is submitted that:"...There is a significant weight of expert opinion undermining Dr Shepherd and raises profound concerns on his reliability which goes to the heart of the case against the applicant.

In rejecting Mr Freeman’s 4th application, the CCRC state:

1. In submitting Mr Freeman’s fourth application to the CCRC, his. legal representatives suggest that Dr Shepherd’s evidence was at the “core” of the prosecution’s case and was its “essence”. Further, at paragraph 28 of the submissions, it is submitted that:

“There is a significant weight of expert opinion undermining Dr Shepherd and raises profound concerns on his reliability which goes to the heart of the case against the applicant.”

2. The CCRC, respectfully, disagrees. It has made it plain in previous applications - as did the Court of Appeal when Mr Freeman's conviction was considered - that the pathology evidence was only one strand of the evidence the jury was entitled to consider. Any new pathology evidence, and the expert evidence in its totality, must be considered in the context of all that is known. As indicated in its first Statement of Reasons (repeated at paragraph 55, above) the CCRC considers the hypothetical discrediting of the pathology evidence alone will not be sufficient to disturb Mr Freeman's conviction. Absent the pathology evidence, the jury would still have been entitled to infer that Mr. Freeman had murdered Mr. Hardie. At paragraph 21 of the submissions document, it is suggested that the Crown placed before the jury "a lot of background material... which mainly went to motive and what was said to be preparation for the murder." The CCRC considers that evidence in fact amounted to a powerful circumstantial case that was sufficient for the jury legitimately to infer that murder had been committed.


Nine eminent pathologists have independently said that Alexander Hardie was not murdered and he died of natural causes. So, why was Clive Freeman charged and convicted for the murder and why is he in prison for murdering him?

The CCRC is clinging to the belief that background material regarding motive is sufficient to convict Clive Freeman of murder even when new forensic evidence suggests that there was no murder.

We know, too, from the Report of the APPG on Miscarriages of Justice that the CCRC is often lacking when it comes to forensic expertise. Indeed, the CCRC provided statements to the inquiry claiming that it "regularly" seeks the advice of expert witnesses” while noting, also, that “this frequently does not take place for a number of reasons.”

It was on this basis that the APPG recommended that: "The CCRC should set up an advisory panel of external forensic experts to consult on scientific and technical issues and on developing forensic strategies."

We impress upon the CCRC that Mr Freeman’s case strengthens that recommendation and we also support the need to instruct a independent pathologist to consider the issues raised in this case.

However, the CCRC is a mere servant to the Court of Appeal, which it knows is notorious for being short-tempered with cases that it regards as wasting its time. Into this category falls appeal cases on behalf of ex-prisoners and elderly prisoners. The CoA seems to have little or no sympathy for people who in the eyes of the CoA have little or nothing to gain from having their conviction quashed, except the personal satisfaction of having their convictions overturned; being found not guilty.

For Clive Freeman that would be a priceless gift, that he is unlikely to ever receive.

Indeed, the CoA hides behind the finality principle, that the trial is where Dr Shepherd’s opinion evidence should have been challenged, which it was, and the doctrine of jury deference, meaning that even in the face of juries convicting innocent victims of wrongful convictions the convictions are seen as ‘safe’ and must stand.

The restrictive nature of the real possibility test subordinates the CCRC to this stance, too, undermining any claims that it may make about being independent.

Always at the forefront of the CoA’s mind, too, is the cost of holding an appeal hearing just to satisfy the desire of an old man to die happy in the knowledge that his conviction has been quashed and his name cleared.

And, perhaps most crucially, there is also the cost in terms of the impact on the public’s trust and faith in the workings of the criminal justice system if a dying elderly man who has been languishing in prison for almost 35 years maintaining his innocence.

Like the cases of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six before him, if Mr Freeman were to overturn his conviction his case would lay bare how he and his family have been failed by the criminal justice system and how the CoA and the CCRC has further compounded the injustice to Mr Freeman and the harm caused to him and his family.

In this context, I think it is justified to say that it is here that the CCRC is shown to be a mere lapdog of the CoA that was set up to, not to assist innocent victims to overturn their wrongful convictions but, rather, to guard against such wrongful and egregious convictions from ever being overturned.

Moreover, that this serves to convince the general public to continue to believe the myth that we have the so called ‘best criminal justice system in the World’; and that the CCRC is a champion rather than an enemy of justice.

Is this really behind the CCRC’s refusal to refuse the case of Clive Freeman to the Court of Appeal? We would love the CCRC to prove us wrong!


1There have been four previous applications to the CCRC under the following reference numbers: 00628/2000; 00339/2004; 00131/2015 and 00821/2019

2 See Naughton, M. (2003) ‘Convicted for crimes that never happened.’ The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.’com/politics/2003/oct/19/prisonsandprobation.ukcrime

3 8th June 2021 Swain and Co Solicitors

4 Hardie was not a ‘tramp’, he had a permanent address. Freeman was told that the prosecution deliberately referred to Hardie as a tramp to gain sympathy from the jury

5 Shepherd’s career as one of the UK’s allegedly most distinguished forensic pathologists saw him involved in disasters from the Hungerford shootings to the Bali bombings, and in high-profile cases from Princess Diana, Harold Shipman to Stephen Lawrence.

9 A much-misunderstood concept originating from the Burke and Hare murders. It is commonly reported erroneously to relate to murder by suffocation, so as to supposedly leave no marks of violence. The cause of death is not suffocation though, it is traumatic asphyxia. As the victim struggles to breath and escape being pinned down by the assailant, it is often the case that the bucking motion causes bruising to the spine.

Bill Robertson has researched alleged miscarriages of justice for around 20 years and advised on several cases, including the most recent application to the CCRC by Jeremy Bamber. He serves as Deputy Editor of CCRC Watch.

Please let us know if you think that there is a mistake in this article, explaining what you think is wrong and why. We will correct any errors as soon as possible.

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