Allegations of Judicial Bias and Unfairness.
Michael Cashman backs appeal by hate crime victim.
Mohamed S wins parole, but forced to serve extra two months.
London – 4 October 2006
A twenty-nine-year-old gay Muslim is challenging the conduct of one of England’s senior circuit judges, Nicholas Medawar QC, who sentenced him to eight years jail in 2002.
Mohamed S was jailed following his conviction on a charge of causing grievous bodily harm – a charge he has always denied.
He says he was the victim of a homophobic hate attack, not the perpetrator, and was framed by his assailants after their attack on him went wrong.
Mohamed S believes the judge’s handling of the court proceedings showed bias and prevented him from getting a fair trial.
Recently released from prison after serving four years, Mohamed S last week filed a new submission to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the top body for examining alleged wrongful convictions. His 48-page submission seeks to quash his conviction on the grounds of the judge’s conduct of his trial in November 2002:
“I do not believe I received a fair trial. Judge Medawar kept interrupting me and my barrister, preventing me from giving the evidence I wanted to give. At times, he appeared to be not listening to my evidence. He showed disrespect and discourtesy. He pressured me to rush my evidence, putting me under unreasonable time pressure. His summing up to the jury gave more time and weight to the prosecution evidence, and he failed to mention the major inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. The judge unfairly disparaged me and my barrister in front of the jury, making them less inclined to have confidence in our credibility and reliability. He dismissed as irrelevant what I believe was important defence evidence. This is my assessment of his handling of my trial,” said Mohamed S.
ohamed S, who has asked for his full name and other identifying details to be withheld because he fears violent retribution against himself and his family by the men who attacked him, has been adopted by gay human rights group OutRage!
“We have assisted with the preparation of his CCRC application,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!
“At his trial, Mohamed’s defence was hampered by intimidation of his witnesses, by alleged bias by the trial judge, by apparent failings by his lawyers, by his severe psychological trauma, by his poor command of English, and by his on-going fears for his own life and the safety of his partner, family and friends.
“I have discovered a series of successful complaints against Mohamed’s trial judge, Judge Nicholas Medawar:
“In the summer of 2005, three people convicted in trials presided over by Judge Medawar had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal because of his alleged bias against the defendants and their lawyers. Two months later the Department for Constitutional Affairs announced that Judge Medawar was retiring,” added Mr Tatchell.
“Mohamed alleges bias by Judge Medawar against him and his barrister and defence witness.
“Judge Medawar’s summing up to the jury appears to have ignored major inconsistencies in the evidence of prosecution witnesses. He barely mentioned police doubts about the truthfulness of the five men who testified against Mohamed.
“This alleged bias by the judge is the basis of the current phase of Mohamed’s CCRC appeal,” said Mr Tatchell.
The call for a review of Mohamed’s conviction by the CCRC is backed by gay Labour MEP Michael Cashman:
“I find aspects of this case disturbing and worrying. It’s vital that this case is reviewed.”
Mohamed also has the support of former Labour MP and ex-cabinet Minister, Chris Smith, now Lord Smith of Finsbury:
“There are a number of very disturbing questions that arise about this conviction, and I believe a thorough review is required,” said Lord Smith.
A similar view is taken by the Labour MP, Ian Gibson, who is backing Mohamed’s application to the CCRC:
“I am increasingly becoming convinced that Mohamed’s conviction is unsafe and full of contradictions. I have met him and have been impressed by his frankness and perseverance. It seems to me that he needs his case to be reviewed by the CCRC,” said Dr Gibson.
Mohamed recently won his application for parole, but was forced to spend almost two months longer in prison that he should have.
According to Peter Tatchell:
“He was eligible for parole on 29 June 2006, and submitted his application more than a month earlier. The Home Office should have decided his parole before 29 June, but failed to give him a decision until 24 August.
“This meant that Mohamed spent two months longer in prison than necessary. If the Home Office had considered his parole application before 29 June, he would have been released on 29 June. Instead, he was kept in prison an extra two months longer than justified,” said Mr Tatchell.
Mohamed S has expressed his appreciation to everyone who has helped him:
“I am very grateful for the support I have received from Lord Smith, Peter Tatchell and OutRage!, my solicitors Simon Creighton and Laura Higgs, MPs Ian Gibson and Stephen Timms, and from MEPs Michael Cashman, Caroline Lucas , Jean Lambert and Andrew Duff,” said Mohamed S.
“Without their help, I may not have won parole and would not have been able to file such a strong application to the CCRC to overturn my conviction,” he added.