CCRC Statement of Reasons (SoR) rejecting John Bartlett's application
When I applied to the CCRC in 2019 to review my 1995 convictions for insurance fraud. I thought the process would be strongly evidence based. After all, the law says you can only look at the evidence. Following my experience of the Metropolitan Police and the British Justice System back in the 1990s, it had taken me 26 years before daring to again trust anyone connected with that System. Dealing with the CCRC has been another eye-opening experience.
My Experience Dealing with the CCRC
I imagined the process would be about the CCRC trying to get to The Truth… like reading through a badly edited book and looking for the spelling mistakes, then correcting them. But the CCRC simply accepted that the Crown Prosecution mistakes had existed at the Trial, irrespective of the fact that those mistakes were broadcast as fact to not just the Jury but also, via the media, to the whole world!
To the CCRC it didn’t matter that new proof now exists from independent experts, proving my convictions to be incontrovertibly unsafe… this is not my words, it's the words of the Legal and Medical Experts!
Case Review Manager: My Case Reviewer appeared to be genuinely trying her best, but clearly, she lacked necessary legal experience and was not medically trained. The Case Review itself was limited to a simple paperwork exercise, most of the documents provided by myself never being examined nor cross-referenced to prove the flaws in the Crowns original timeline and missing medical evidence.
The CCRC refused to view important new evidence in the form of a 3-minute ITV news recording that had just been located. No one, including myself, was ever interviewed throughout the Review process. In the 156 weeks taken to review my case, one important Crown Witness that the CCRC knew had a terminal illness and who had wished to provide critical evidence, was ignored and subsequently died (click link to read this witness’s statement to the CCRC). The Draft Statement of Reasons (DSoR) provided by the CCRC was riddled with multiple errors, many of which are catastrophic!
My overall impression was that my Case Reviewer was inexperienced, unsupported and ill equipped in not being allowed to investigate facts or interview anyone connected with the case. She appeared time restricted and very overworked with other ongoing cases. The CCRC appear to have made no audit trail whatsoever to record how much time was actually spent by the Case Manager reviewing my Submission.
Non-Disclosure of Documents by the CCRC and the CPS: On the 16th of June 2022, after concluding its review, the CCRC made reference (possibly inadvertently) to a Fax dated 6th October 1992 they’d located in the Metropolitan Police File on my case (SoR P448). This Fax appears to be a communication between two Crown Prosecution Witnesses (my former co-Driver, Robin Donovan and the Race Team Director) and related to the Prize Indemnity Scheme and American Racing Team I was supposed to have defrauded. It's clearly a VERY important document and in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 this Fax should have been disclosed to the Defence Team during the Trial, giving us the opportunity of cross-examining. It was not disclosed!
The first mention of this Fax was only after the CCRC had concluded my Case Review and despite my having made several requests to view that file, they steadfastly refused to allow me access to those documents at the time of the case review. The CCRC are supposed to be independent but It’s hard to not now consider the obvious possibility of collusion between the CCRC, CPS and Metropolitan Police!
Commissioners Review (Draft SoR and final SoR): The single Commissioner reviewing my case appeared to have no understanding whatsoever of how a person with high-functioning autism and ADHD thinks, acts and processes information. He was a Government Lawyer specialising in national security!
My autism was new evidence, only diagnosed in 2017, and was critical as it related to my thinking processes, sensory issues, very high tolerance to pain and why I’d decided to race with broken vertebrae in my spine. At the time, the Crown’s Case was that I couldn’t have been injured or had exaggerated my injuries! New evidence had also included a new CT Scan of my spine showing the broken vertebrae and severe nerve damage to my legs (flattened nerves).
The Commissioners working process appeared extraordinarily authoritarian, his role seemingly to be finding ways to inexplicably rebut or redact any legal points and any new evidence presented by Experts. This was mostly achieved by simply not responding to nor reading and possibly not comprehending the impact of the evidence provided. The full contents of Experts Reports were ignored as was the significance of new medical CT scans that incontrovertibly proved my spinal injuries from my accident in 1988. The Commissioner clearly failed to fully understand the significance of the new autism evidence from three of the UK’s top psychologists and forensic psychologists and refused to view most supporting documents.
No attempt was made to cross-reference documentation that incontrovertibly proved the correct timelines and the Commissioner also failed to consider or provide plausible rationale for not responding to the new supporting Witness Statements and video evidence (ITN News DVD). The only possible conclusion to all this is that either the CCRC haven’t actually read the full original submission or are wilfully trying to ‘smother’ the true facts for fear of embarrassing the Metropolitan Police and Justice System.
Not Fit for Purpose: In May 2018, The Guardian newspaper reported on the CCRC being “not fit for purpose”, a statement echoed by BBC’s Panorama and The Justice Gap to mention just two of many:
“The CCRC has become an office-bound, moribund organisation… The people employed there are not qualified to do what they’re doing, and often don’t understand the law… The biggest problem is that it doesn’t actually investigate.”
May 2018 – The Guardian newspaper
Case Review Time: As of July 2022, the CCRC are still publicly boasting that the review time for cases is between 31 to 40 weeks and even quicker if there are special reasons, such as the health of the person applying, as in my case…
“…special reasons why a particular case should be looked at more urgently. These special reasons can be things like the health of the person applying, a serious illness affecting a potentially important witness…” The CCRC Website July 2022
The CCRC had a full copy of my NHS medical history from childhood and knew there were special reasons why my case needed to be expressed. They also knew I was approaching 70 years of age and had lived under this cloud for over 30 years and were aware that I was diagnosed as suffering from extreme stress and anxiety with a number of serious other medical and mental health issues including a diagnosis of chronic PTSD (arising from pre-trial, the trial itself and my imprisonment), and CPTSD arising from childhood. They were also fully aware I am registered disabled with mobility problems, serious respiratory issues and am diagnosed with autism and NHS classified as being extremely vulnerable. Despite all this the CCRC declined to review my case urgently. In fact, on a case they conclude to be simple, they took 5 times longer than they declare publicly.
Their decision time statement (box above) is at best highly misleading and at worst blatantly fraudulent. My case took the CCRC over 3 years and 3 months to process (approximately 156 weeks). That’s some 500% longer than the CCRC states publicly! From my personal experience, their review time and overall performance was exceptionally laidback and leisurely throughout, with its overall approach wholly lacking in honestly, transparency and integrity.
The CCRC maintained throughout that my case was “simple” in spite of the Trial Judge’s comments at the time of my Trial that my case was “long and complicated”. At that time, Judge McRae had considered the case so long and complex that he released all the jurors from any future jury service for ten years! I also find it interesting that just a single Government Lawyer with no medical training was selected to make the decision on my case.
I would maintain that the difference between what the CCRC says publicly and what it achieves in reality, whilst trying to justify its £5.6m public funding budget [Disclosed funding for 2017/18 10th Sept. 2018] is egregiously deceptive. I would describe the overall CCRC review process and performance as Kafkaesque. At best it is overly bureaucratic, protracted, negligent and incompetent. At worst, it pays lip-service to investigating miscarriages of justice, and appears dishonest and mendacious, producing protracted sub-standard case reviews, riddled with errors, legal gaffes and inconsistencies.
The CCRC’s final Statement of Reasons (SoR) was carelessly sent to me by post in a flimsy A4 envelope. It arrived damaged, split open with confidential legal and medical documents open to any curious eyes. There had been no attempt whatsoever to package the confidential paperwork securely and no way of knowing what documentation was missing!
…and, despite repeated requests, the CCRC have also failed to return irreplaceable essential legal documentation I provided to them such as the Trial Summing Up Transcript and the new video evidence (ITN News DVD). I can only assume these have been lost.
My only real possibility to obtain justice now is to pursue a Judicial Review, specifically in relation to how certain discriminatory Case Law is being used by the Crown to significantly disadvantage and prejudice any autistic person and anyone diagnosed with ADHD (R v Genting and R v Ghosh).
John Bartlett is a former racing driver and team owner from the 1980s. He is author of two novels, Chequered Justice and Dark Horse, a prequel to Chequered Justice. For more information on John see: https://johnbartlett.co.uk/about-john/
This article was first published on John Bartlett's own website at: https://johnbartlett.co.uk/
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