The CCRC – The Dancing Clowns of the British Justice System?
Updated: Nov 2, 2022
John Bartlett at a book signing for his first novel Chequered Justice
This post is an Open Letter Reply to the CCRC by John Bartlett. It details his experience of the CCRC and expresses his frustrations in terms of the shoddiness of how the CCRC dealt with his application in 2019 to review his 1995 convictions for insurance fraud. Regular readers and those who have first-hand experience with the CCRC will know only too well that this is a fair representation of how the CCRC works - or, rather, does not work!
Copy of letter dated 22nd September 2022
Att Helen Pitcher (Chairman CCRC) – 22nd September 2022
Open Reply Letter to the CCRC – Ref. 0023/2019
I am in receipt of your letter dated 16th September 2022 in which you advise me that you are, for a second time, granting yourselves additional time to re-examine your handling of my CCRC Submission. I understand this extra time is required due to CCRC staff illness. The irony of your letters of 8th Aug and 16th Sept 2022 appears totally lost on its author! If you refer to my original 2019 CCRC Submission (Ref. CCRC – INFO – Point 18), concerning MY health at the time of my trial and conviction in 1994/5, I pointed out to the CCRC that I was:
“… never permitted to present any evidence to the Court of Appeal within the required 28 days, due to my collapse and my appalling mental state (See CCRC Document Points 8, 9 & 14 to 20 & JB – 12, JB – 13, JB – 14, JB – 14a, JB – 15 & JB – 17). I was subsequently repeatedly refused leave to appeal, solely because I had missed that 28-day deadline for appeals due to being mentally unfit and an in-patient at Graylingwell Psychiatric Hospital.”
“When I was found guilty, I collapsed and was admitted to Graylingwell Psychiatric Hospital. Whilst heavily sedated and still an un-discharged in-patient, Judge Kenneth MacRae against the medical advice in the Pre-Sentencing Report of Mr Matthews 1MBBS (HONS), MRCP (UK), FRCPsych., DPM, Consultant Psychiatrist, proceeded to cross-examine me, via my barrister, on the Criminal Justice Act 1988, S.74 (10), about an inheritance received following my Father’s death. Kenneth MacRae then sentenced me to a total of 6 years in prison (4 years plus a further 2 years if I didn’t pay a Compensation Order, See JB – 125 & Document CO – JB).”
If the British Justice System (BJS) had granted me extra time, due to my state of health at that time, it’s unlikely I would ever have been locked into this 30-year battle with the BJS, because we would have been able to preserve the Trial Transcripts BEFORE the BJS destroyed them all and launch an appeal to vindicate myself! I therefore find it very frustrating to again see how there is one set of rules for those within the System (BJS/CCRC) and a totally different set of rules for everybody else!
In the above extract from my 2019 CCRC submission (Ref. CCRC – INFO Point 18) which you clearly didn’t bother reading properly, you will see that I gave you all the references and provided all the original documents so you, the CCRC, could easily cross-reference them. This would have enabled you to see that EVERYTHING I was saying about the the timelines and not being granted extra time due to my health and being in hospital and about the flawed Summing Up Transcript was honest, true and provable. For months I implored you to cross-reference that independent documentation I had gathered together. Even AFTER you produced your Draft SoR, I repeatedly emailed my Case Manager, Claire Carter (examples: 25th March and 28th March 2022), asking and pointing out that it was utterly futile continuing to a final decision, unless she cross-referenced those documents because the Summing-Up Transcript and draft SOR both contained SO many provably factual errors.
If the CCRC can be bothered to read some of Claire Carters most recent email responses regarding cross-referencing evidence (for example 29th March 2022), you will see how she deflects giving a direct answer each time…e.g. I specifically said on 28th March 2022:
“…please confirm that the new documents I provided have not simply been read but they have been read and referenced in context to each of my responses in the SoR”
But Claire Carter simply responded on 29th March 2022 with:
“I confirm that your further representations are being thoroughly reviewed”
In my Recorded Delivery Letter (Ref. WD764582489GB) of 6th April 2022, I again specifically asked:
“…please confirm that all the additional documentation I have provided are not simply being read, but that they have been reconciled in context to each of my responses in the SoR”
This time the CCRC didn’t even bother to respond!
I would like to remind the CCRC that when it came to MY health considerations, no delay was allowed for my original experienced Barrister Nigel Pringle to defend me. When his Junior, Jonathan Davies, took over and then was injured, he was expected to continue in great pain and whilst sedated. Again, NO allowance was made for me either, having just lost my Father to cancer and my Mother having suffered a serious stroke caused directly by the Met Police raid. And even when Mr Matthews 1MBBS (HONS), MRCP (UK), FRCPsych., DPM, Consultant Psychiatrist advised Judge Kenneth MacRae that I was unfit to serve a prison sentence, that medical advice was ignored, and I was sent directly to HMP Wandsworth! I would also remind you that the CCRC told me that I did NOT need a solicitor to prepare my CCRC Submission which involved dealing with thousands of pages of documents, despite your knowing I am autistic and dyslexic with a formally diagnosed spelling age of 8 years 10 months and a reading age of 13 years 5 months (INTRO – JB & Document JB – 7) The CCRC had also been advised by Carol Stott PhD that I had ADHD symptoms which has since been formally diagnosed on 14th September 2022!
ADHD: Whilst your letter of 8th Aug 2022 clearly demonstrates the CCRC’s concern for its own staff's medical conditions, when it comes to the mental health considerations of a defendant during their Trial, there is clearly no such reciprocation. For example, in Carol Stott’s Report she advised the CCRC that I had symptoms of ADHD. I also subsequently pointed out to the CCRC that local ADHD testing had confirmed “probable ADHD”.
My G.P. provided a printout confirming the above which I emailed to Claire Carter on 25th April 2022, and I advised that I had now been referred for full NHS DIVA 5 ADHD testing and was on the NHS waiting list. Claire Carter confirmed on 26th April that this new ADHD information would be passed to the Commissioners. Subsequently I was diagnosed by Psicon with ADHD on 14th September 2022. This is a condition I have had since childhood and was obviously something my Jury were also unaware of back in 1994! Typical symptoms of ADHD are inattentiveness, impulsiveness, inability to concentrate and hyperactivity, all things that I have really struggled with throughout my lifetime but am only now receiving medication for, to help counter these debilitating effects. Clearly my Jury were unaware of any of this or my ASD in 1994!
Unlike my Jury, the CCRC were always aware of my ASD/ADHD symptoms, especially my tendency to act impulsively. In my original CCRC Submission I explained how (CCRC INFO Point 77 (g)):
“On leaving prison, I felt threatened and persecuted… we left England and drove overland to live in 3rd world Madagascar…”
Most experts would probably conclude that this type of action was at the very least unusual, but the CCRC seemed to think otherwise, or simply chose to ignore the evidence before them. The impact of a potential DIVA 5, ADHD diagnosis (now confirmed) on top of my ASD diagnosis (all unknown by my Jury) is surely extremely significant and at least worthy of a few weeks delay so it could be considered by your expert, Dr Harry Wood. But the CCRC simply ignored the significance, doubtless not wanting anything to deflect your fixated view that I am supposedly just a dishonest person. One can only speculate what the CCRC’s reasons were.
I cannot help the way I am and think and consider the CCRC’s coercive and dismissive control of my mental health as abusive mind rape.
Why was such a rush to judgment sanctioned by an Organisation established to investigate potential miscarriages of justice? In view of what I believe is a major and quite deliberate omission, I have forwarded a copy of this letter and the DIVA 5, ADHD diagnosis to Dr Wood. At least, that way, when you conclude investigating yourself, you might have time to manufacture suitable reasons for your actions.
HONESTY: I originally provided the CCRC with a clear correct chronology in the form of original independently verifiable documentation and Trial Exhibits (Ref. INTRO – JB (Document 1), with Court References and Documents (Points 1 to 5) to prove the correct timeline by linking the events to official records and dates. However, the CCRC ignored this and in a clear case of confirmation bias, relied on the original CPS/ Met Police arguments and the flawed Summing Up Transcript to fuel their belief of my supposed dishonesty by producing a provably inaccurate highly subjective timeline (SoR Point 56). Not only was much of the evidence utilised in SoR 56 either wrong, misleading or missing but other critical documentation was specifically excluded. The CCRC undermines its own credibility with its SoR 56 timeline which takes no account of any of the contextual circumstances. SoR 56 is a clear example of obfuscation, cognitive bias and sheer stupidity… The very powerful and the very stupid always have one thing in common. They don’t alter their minds to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views… (in my case the timeline and my ASD and ADHD).
At NO time did the CCRC ever actually cross-reference the critical independent documents provided that prove the true sequence of events and timelines etc. This is why I previously referred to the CCRC acting like politicians i.e. NEVER giving a direct honest answer to a question!
If anyone within the media ever decides to check the true facts and cross-checks the documentation I originally provided to the CCRC, I sure the outcome would prove extremely embarrassing, especially as the CCRC were fully aware from my original submission (CCRC – INFO Point 40) that it was the Metropolitan Police that removed my privileged Defence File marked “Sequence of Events” from my office on 4th March 1994 and then cherry picked specific documents and excluded others to generate an alternate “Prosecution Timeline”, the same points of which have now been relied on by the CCRC (SoR 56) as “proof” of my supposed dishonesty!
CCRC – INFO Point 40 (Submitted Feb 2019):
“On 4th March 1994, six months prior to the commencement of the trial, DC Staunton and P.C Brandon searched our home for the second time, during which they removed specific privileged defence documents including my “Sequence of Events” file; a yellow Viking Direct file (See: JB – 3, Lever Arch file cover & JB – 5, the 20-page Sequence of Events Document, prepared for my original solicitor, Ian Oliver). All these documents were later returned with a note (gist): Taken in error not read.”
After you produced your Draft SoR (which contained even more factual errors than the Trial Transcript it was based on), I referred you back to just a few example documents that I had cross-referenced in my original CCRC Submission (ones you had previously failed to cross-reference). Below are the 9 key points that I now understand the CCRC have finally, begrudgingly accepted in relation to my 1994 conviction for insurance fraud:
The CCRC now accept (SoR 328) that Robin Donovan was the driver that won the Prize Indemnity at Zolder, NOT myself
The CCRC now accept (SoR 330) that the CCRC muddled up important evidence from Crown Witnesses Mr Malcolm Renee and Mr Ian Little
The CCRC now accept (SoR 238) that I was unaware that the disability caused by my 1988 accident had been classified by the spinal surgeon as a “permanent disability” when I first made my temporary disablement insurance claim in 1988.
The CCRC now accept (SoR 239) that the new 2020 MRI Scans prove my spinal injuries were traumatic and permanent resulting from my 1988 accident (Ref. CPS argument of attempting to obtain £170,000 from CIGNA by deception: Point 236 CCRC SoR).
Why didn’t the BJS have this point checked 30 years ago rather than allow and condone Judge MacRae’s inference throughout my 1994 Trial that I was being dishonest and making it all up?
The CCRC now accept (SoR 240) that the NHS spinal surgeon, Dr Stewart’s time giving evidence, was restricted by my Trial Judge.
The CCRC now admit (SoR 330 & 331) to ten specific example errors in their Draft SoR but conclude that their mistakes (which include understating my PTSD medication by 75%) are not relevant.
The CCRC now accept (SoR 402) that I was NOT claiming temporary disablement benefits from Consolidated Marine at the time I attempted to race again at Brands Hatch (25th 26th July 1992).
The CCRC now accept (SoR 119) that I HAD been suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) since childhood and that the diagnosis was not known at my Trial and is therefore new evidence.
The CCRC now accept (SoR 206) that my undiagnosed ASD may have had an impact on how I was viewed when giving evidence and answering questions, and ultimately on the conclusions drawn by the Jury about my honesty
* Why did it take almost 30 years for somebody to order/examine an MRI scan? Judge MacRae, who throughout my Trial made it abundantly clear to the Jury that he didn’t consider my injuries genuine
Even if the CCRC believe I had done something wrong with my insurance claim paperwork (whatever the fine detail argued by the Crown), was it appropriate for the BJS to spend millions of pounds getting me sentenced to a total of up to 6 years in prison, when the accident and my resulting injuries clearly happened, and I was, in any event, fully entitled to claim? But then the CCRC never bothered to cross-reference any documents that I provided and did not cross-check them to corroborate the TRUE timelines to prove I had acted honestly. The CCRC relied solely on the “Ivey Test” as a test of my honesty.
The CCRC specifically asked the expert opinion of Dr Harry Wood ((BSc) Psychology, (MSc) Forensic Psychology, D. Clin. Psy. AFBPsS), an independent Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Forensic Psychologist to provide expert evidence to the CCRC specifically in relation to the “Ivey” test and my honesty.
The CCRC were informed by Dr Wood that the key requirement of the “Ivey Test” is to ascertain:
(a) … “the defendant’s genuinely held knowledge or belief as to the facts”
…before going on to determine if my conduct would be considered:
(b) … “honest or dishonest by applying the standards of ordinary decent people”
Due to the “Ivey Test” any Autistic person is clearly a blatant target for the BJS to be assured of a conviction and similarly the CCRC’s reliance on this Test to determine the honesty of an autistic person has to also be fatally flawed as the Test takes no account of ASD or ADHD, being designed for Neuro-typical people. It is therefore highly prejudicial to Autistic people and others with similar Mental Health condition! In its current form this Test ‘allowed’ the CCRC to judge me as “dishonest”, without the CCRC properly checking my honesty by investigating the real sequence of events. Reliance solely on the “Ivey Test” to determine my honesty, despite the CCRC accepting that my undiagnosed ASD “probably” impacted how I was viewed by the Jury and the Jury’s conclusions about my honesty (Point 206 in the SoR) is simply unfair and perverse.
In any event, the CCRC never attempted to determine my “genuinely held knowledge or belief” as required by Ivey because they didn’t consider it appropriate to investigate any original source documentation to establish and verify a definitively accurate timeline of my actions. Instead the CCRC relied solely on the Metropolitan Police and CPS argument primarily reflected in the hugely flawed Trial Summing Up (effectively a re-reading of the Prosecution opening speech!). Both of the sources used by the CCRC (police/CPS argument and Summing Up), had been designed solely to show me as “a dishonest person”! They were NOT objective, they were extremely subjective!
However, the CCRC then produced its own timeline (SoR Point 56) and based its opinion on my “honesty” solely on that demonstrably flawed timeline!
I maintain that the true sequence of events or timeline should have been established by a thorough investigation and should have been based solely on original provable source documentation. If this had happened, the CCRC would have seen that I had acted honestly and logically at each point in the true timeline.
When it came to the CCRC supposedly investigating the timelines to check the honesty of my insurance claims, the CCRC “investigation” was woefully inadequate! Your sloppy investigation was as profound as a troupe of dancing clowns, dancing a complex sequence of steps around the facts to enable it to dismiss the truth. In fact, a clown would have done a better job and certainly would have acted with greater integrity and capability than the CCRC, who simply tried to ‘wish away’ 100% verifiable Documentation.
Children learn how to produce flow charts to accurately understand actions and time lines, but the CCRC don’t appear to have a clue, and certainly have no understanding of the literal, one-track thinking process of a person with ASD and how any autistic person logically acts! If the CCRC with its millions of pounds of tax payers money for carrying out such work, had bothered to simply place the collaborating independent data provided (free from any CPS, Police or Prosecution bias) into a logical, ‘swim lane’ type process flow chart, instead of relying on the flawed Summing Up Transcript and the “Ivey Test”, you would have seen instantly that every action taken by me was HONEST, LOGICAL and CORRECT at each and EVERY point in the time line!
I would liken my three and a half years of dealing with the CCRC as like entering another BJS abyss, a war zone similar to my 30 years battle with that System…. another battle ground fought in shades of grey, without logic, played out by imperious experts in deceit and double-talk. The CCRC are unlike anything the public would imagine it to be. It’s an incompetent System where fiction and reality blur in a wilderness of smoke and mirrors, a bodyguard of bigots protecting the BJS!
I have not changed my story in the past 30 years and I stand by everything I have previously said, even though I now realise I’m not especially good at expressing things. But that’s because I am autistic AND I have ADHD! I have had these conditions along with chronic dyslexia since childhood. I now understand that my conditions are genetic and were possibly exacerbated as a result of my mother being a “geriatric mother” when she gave birth to me in 1955 aged 41 years. I believe that a fair allowance should have been made for this and my Jury should have known all the facts at my trial in 1994.
My sincere hope is that the CCRC is forced to undertake radical reform. It has to stop rewarding its failures by paying large salaries with tax payers money to incompetent senior managers. What is needed is a truly independent, honourable and accountable system established, with qualified professionals and significant independent funding to efficiently and fully investigate potential miscarriages of justice and, as in Scotland, a more logically honest test established for referring convictions to The Court of Appeal… i.e. when “a miscarriage of justice may have occurred” and when “it is in the interests of justice that a reference should be made”… This has to happen, to protect families and to hold the flawed British Justice System accountable for the ongoing, wholesale destruction of innocent peoples lives.
Whilst I hope your Customer Service Manager’s health improves soon, I trust you will also now reflect on the fact that 30 years ago I was NOT granted an extension due to my health. When this is balanced against your health concerns for your Customer Service Manager and for example Judge MacRae’s concern for his health by going on strike back in October 2008 and walking out of his Court in protest because it was cold, there appears to be a glaring fundamental inconsistency!
N.B. A copy of this has been sent to Stephen Crabb MP with specific reference to the CCRC and the BJS reliance on the “Ivey Test” with autistic people and those suffering with conditions such as ADHD.
In view of the fact I have referenced Dr Harry Wood, I have also sent him a copy.
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 Open Letter Reply to the CCRC was first published on John Bartlett's own website at: https://johnbartlett.co.uk/
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