University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP)

Between 2005-2015, Michael was Founder and Director of the first innocence project in the UK dedicated to investigating alleged wrongful convictions, the University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP) (see here and here). This saw him spearhead 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 contributed to the first ever case referrals by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (see R v Simon John Hall) and the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (see William Beck v Her Majesty’s Advocate) back to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) and the High Court of Justiciary, respectively, following submissions or applications by a UK innocence project.

In December 2021, Justin Plummer’s conviction for the murder of Janice Cartwright-Gilbert was overturned by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) in lines with a report on the case by the University of Bristol Innocence Project regarding the unreliability of footwear impressions. (Click here for: CCRC refers the murder conviction of Justin Plummer).

The University of Bristol Innocence Project also assisted two over tariff life-sentenced prisoners maintaining innocence to be progressed to open conditions. And it finally settled several claims of factual innocence by alleged victims of wrongful conviction and imprisonment when they were proven to be factually guilty.

The University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP) became the template for the setting up of over 30 innocence projects in other universities in England, Scotland and Wales under the auspices of Innocence Network UK (INUK) (click here and here).