Impacts of research

This page lists some of the major impacts of Michael’s academic research and wider public engagement and knowledge transfer activities. Also, see his academic CV for full information on the 50 invited public presentations and presentations he has given to professional and third sector conferences.

Invited submission to the Ministry of Justice: Tailored Review of the Criminal Cases Review Commission

2018: Invited submission to the Ministry of Justice: Tailored Review of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, 10 January. Click here for more information on the review and here for my submission.

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) British Horizons: British Professional Exchange Programme

2016: Invited visit to Armenia as part of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) British Horizons: British Professional Exchange Programme to advise various governmental and non-governmental organisations on issues relating to the causation and remedy of miscarriages of justice, February 1-6. Click here for more information.

Invited oral evidence to the Parliamentary Justice Committee

2015: Invited oral evidence to the Parliamentary Justice Committee, House of Commons, on the limitations of the Criminal Cases Review Commission in dealing with applications from alleged innocent victims of miscarriages of justice. January. Click here for a transcript of Michael’s submission on the Parliament website.

Influenced new rules of disclosure and access to evidence for alleged victims of wrongful convictions

2014: The Supreme Court case of R (Nunn) v Chief Constable of Suffolk Constabulary considered arguments on the limitations on access to exhibits for DNA testing post-conviction. Michael drafted (with Gabe Tan) the third party intervention on behalf of Innocence Network UK (INUK) (jointly with JUSTICE and CALA (Criminal Appeal Lawyers Association)), which was underpinned by my research, casework and wider engagements on the operations of the Criminal Cases Review Commission in dealing with applications from alleged innocent victims of miscarriages of justice. The INUK submission succeeded in achieving positive reforms to the existing Attorney General’s rules on disclosure and access to evidence post-conviction for alleged victims of wrongful convictions. Click here for more information and here for the INUK submission.

Elected to the Innocence Network Board

2014: Elected to the Innocence Network Board. The Innocence Network is an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions.  Based in the United States, the Innocence Network has 49 members in almost all US States and has members in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, South Africa and the UK. The Network Board, which oversees the work of the Innocence Network, is composed of 21 members, with two seats reserved for non-US members.

Invited expert submission on the work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission to the Parliamentary Justice Committee

2014: Invited expert submission on the work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission to the Parliamentary Justice Committee, the content of which contributed to a decision to have a full public consultation. Click here for Michael’s submission.

University of Bristol – Impact Case Study in Research Assessment framework 2014

2014: The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. Research is assessed every 6 or 7 years. The REF 2014 was the first exercise to assess the impact of research outside of academia. Almost 7,000 Impact Case Studies were submitted to REF 2014 by universities in the UK. Michael’s work was submitted by the University of Bristol as an Impact Case Study, ‘Innocence: assisting victims of wrongful imprisonment’, and was one of three which collectively were ranked as 2nd in the UK by the Sociology Panel.

Invited expert submission to the Ministry of Justice’s Triennial Review of the Criminal Cases Review Commission

2012: Invited expert submission to the Ministry of Justice’s Triennial Review of the Criminal Cases Review Commission. Click here for Michael’s submission.

Invited international expert at the International Conference on the Issues of Life-term Prisoners in Yerevan, Armenia

2012: Invited international expert at the International Conference on the Issues of Life-term Prisoners in Yerevan, Armenia, November 20-22. Paper entitled: ‘Innocence projects and DNA testing in reviewing claims of innocence by life-sentenced prisoners maintaining innocence’. Click here for more information.

Invited international expert at the International Conference on the Prevention of Wrongful Convictions, China

2012: Invited international expert at the International Conference on the Prevention of Wrongful Convictions, Senior Prosecutors Research and Advanced Study Center of Jilin Province, ChangChun, China, 6-8 August: paper entitled: ‘Preventing Wrongful Convictions in England and Wales: Abortions of Justice versus Miscarriages of Justice’. Click here for more information.

Influenced a new right of appeal against alleged wrongful convictions in South Australia

2011: Consulted by The Hon. Stephen Wade MLC, Shadow Attorney-General, South Australia, as part of the inquiry by the Legislative Review Committee into the Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill 2010. Michael’s invited submissions and research were cited extensively in the official report to the Parliament of South Australia, which embraced my submissions and recommended a new right of appeal for alleged victims of wrongful convictions rather than the setting up of a Criminal Cases Review Commission-style body in South Australia. Click here for the Report

Inaugural speaker for the ‘Bristol Genius’ Public Lecture Series, Bristol Festival of Ideas

2011: Inaugural speaker for the ‘Bristol Genius’ Public Lecture Series, Bristol Festival of Ideas, Watershed, Bristol, 21 May.

Influenced the agenda on wrongful conviction research in the United States

2010: Invited as an international expert by National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research arm of the US Department of Justice, to participate in two-days of workshops to form the basis for future federal research and policy on wrongful convictions in the US. ‘International perspectives on wrongful convictions’, Washington, D.C., United States, 13-14 September. Michael’s research is cited variously in the official report of the proceedings and I was one of a small number of participants who was invited to provide authored contributions in the official report, and the only participant to have two entries.  Click here for the official report.

The Impact of University Research – Changing Worlds Showcase

2010: Invited presentation at the SETsquared Partnership event called ‘Changing Worlds’ in London, which brought together leaders from across Government, industry, research bodies and academia. It ‘showcased the impact of some of the world leading research’ to come out of its partner universities – Bristol, Bath, Southampton, Exeter and Surrey, 13 October. Click here for more information and here for the brochure of the event.

Invited presentation at the House of Commons

2010: Invited by John McDonnell MP to give a presentation at the House of Commons on the findings of my research on the limits of the criminal appeals system to deal with claims of factual innocence by alleged victims of miscarriages of justice, 2 December.

100: A collection of words and images to mark the centenary of the University of Bristol

2008: Michael was one of 60 past and present Bristol students and/or members of staff to be featured in the book to celebrate the centenary of the University of Bristol. Click here for more information.

Influenced a new regime for dealing with prisoners maintaining innocence

2008: Michael conducted the first (and, to date, only) piece of empirical research on the obstacles and barriers to progression and release for life-sentenced prisoners maintaining innocence. The abridged findings were published in the peer-reviewed Prison Service Journal as: ‘Factual Innocence versus Legal Guilt: The Need for a New Pair of Spectacles to view the Problem of Life-Sentenced Prisoners Maintaining Innocence’ . This article and follow-up exchanges with NOMS/Ministry of Justice influenced a new way of dealing with prisoners maintaining innocence by influencing reforms to Prison Service Order (PSO) 4700, which governs the treatment of indeterminate sentenced prisoners. Crucially, prison and probation staff in prisons in England and Wales are now instructed to recognise, officially, that some prisoners maintaining innocence are, in fact, innocent and to deal with them on this basis rather than seeing them all as merely “deniers”. The full research findings are published in Chapter 5 of The Innocent and the Criminal Justice System.

BBC Rough Justice: The Innocents’ Brief

2007: The last ever BBC Rough Justice programme, The Innocents’ Brief, featured Michael’s work with the University of Bristol Innocence Project, the first innocence project in the UK dedicated to investigating alleged wrongful convictions. More specifically, it followed 5 University of Bristol Innocence Project students investigating the alleged wrongful conviction and imprisonment case of Simon Hall, convicted and given a life sentence for the murder of Joan Albert. Also featured Keir Starmer QC as the instructing barrister. Click here for more information.

Invited presentation at the House of Commons

2006: Invited by Bruce Kent, Chair, Progressing Prisoners Maintaining Innocence (PPMI), to give a presentation at the House of Commons based on my research on prisoners maintaining innocence, May.

The Innocence Project, BBC One Drama Series

2006: Inspired and gave domestic relevance to a BBC One television drama series, The Innocence Project.  Click here for more information.

Consultation with an MP

2005: Consulted by Claire Curtis-Thomas MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Abuse Investigations, on miscarriages of justice and the criminal justice system, July.

Consultation with the Home Office

2005: Invited by the Home Office to consult senior representatives of criminal justice system agencies (Parole Board, Criminal Cases Review Commission, prisons, probation, prison psychology) on my research on the obstacles and barriers to progression and release for prisoners maintaining innocence, Home Office, London, July.

University of Bristol Innocence Project

2005-2015: Founder and Director of the first innocence project in the UK dedicated to investigating alleged wrongful convictions, University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP), which saw Michael pioneer the introduction of a new form of clinical legal education in the UK, based on the innocence projects that originated in the United States. Under his supervision, student volunteers investigated alleged wrongful convictions on a pro bono basis, with input from criminal appeal lawyers and forensic experts where appropriate. In terms of “successes”, the University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP) contributed to the first ever case referrals by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (R v Hall, 2010) and the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (Beck v Her Majesty’s Advocate, 2013) back to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) and the High Court of Justiciary, respectively, following submissions/applications by a UK innocence project. It assisted two over tariff life-sentenced prisoners maintaining innocence to be progressed to open conditions. It, also, finally settled two claims of factual innocence by alleged victims of wrongful conviction and imprisonment when they were proven to be factually guilty. UoBIP became the template for the setting up of over 30 innocence projects in other universities around the country (see below).

Innocence Network UK (INUK)

2004 – 2015: Founder and Director of Innocence Network UK (INUK),  which saw Michael facilitate the setting up, and support the subsequent running of 36 Innocence Projects in the UK, including one in a corporate law firm which was also a global first, dedicated to investigating and overturning wrongful convictions. With INUK colleagues, Michael organised two annual conferences a year over the life of the organisation, as well as several additional research symposiums and events. He also directed a team of staff and students from the University of Bristol Innocence Project to assess all applications to INUK for assistance from alleged victims of wrongful convictions for eligibility, referring over a hundred cases from almost 1,000 full applications to member innocence projects for further investigation. In December 2014, Dwaine George’s murder conviction was overturned, making him the first case overturned by an innocence project in the UK. It followed an INUK referral to a member innocence project (Cardiff Law School) to follow up on lines of further investigation identified by UoBIP staff and students working for INUK at the University of Bristol.