The aims of INNOCENT are:
1. To prevent the wrongful criminal conviction of persons who have not committed the crime or crimes with which they have been charged.
2. To overturn the convictions of persons who have not committed the crime or crimes of which they have been convicted.
3. To raise awareness of the problem of miscarriage of justice and the wrongful conviction of those who are actually innocent.
INNOCENT was founded at a meeting in Manchester Town Hall on 14 June 1993.
In the years before this initial meeting, many innocent prisoners from the Greater Manchester area had contacted Conviction, the Sheffield-based organisation which endeavours to help prisoners wrongly convicted of serious crimes.
Conviction couldn’t hope to help all these people, so two members of Conviction, Andrew Green and Jane Austin, started up a sister organisation in Manchester.
They contacted all prisoners from the Manchester area, asking them who they would like to be invited to an initial meeting. Graham Stringer, then leader of Manchester City Council, arranged for a meeting room in Manchester Town Hall to be made available for the first meeting, which although a closed meeting was attended by over forty people.
Finding themselves for the first time in a room full of people all of whom had a member of their family or a friend who had been wrongly convicted, people began to speak openly about what had happened in their cases, and who was responsible for fitting up their friends and relatives. Police officers who’d fabricated evidence against suspects and defence lawyers who’d sold their clients down the river were found to feature in more than one case. It was clear that an organisation was needed in Manchester, through which families and friends of wrongly convicted prisoners could support each other, and help one another in the long and difficult task of overturning convictions.
The organisation was soon up and running, under the leadership of Janice Davies, the sister of Kevin Callan (whose conviction for the murder of his own step-daughter was later overturned). Great help came from campaigns such as the one in support of John Brannan and Bernard Murphy who had been jointly convicted of murder. (Their case was subsequently referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the convictions overturned; sadly, John Brannan died in prison in December 1998.)
INNOCENT has been meeting regularly ever since it was founded, and has held two major public meetings in Manchester Town Hall, the first addressed by Mike Mansfield QC and Paddy Joe Hill (of the Birmingham Six), and the second by Campbell Malone (Manchester solicitor who acted for Stefan Kiszko and Kevin Callan), David Jessel (of Channel 4’s Trial & Error) and Kevin Callan.
A third successful public meeting was held in the Friends’ Meeting House in central Manchester on 27 October 1999.
INNOCENT has since helped to set up United Against Injustice and sister groups London Against Injustice, Yorkshire and Humberside Against Injustice, and West Midlands Against Injustice.
Ann Craven, chair of INNOCENT, died on 13 June 2010. Please visit the page devoted to her memory.
Gillian Phillips was elected chair of INNOCENT in August 2010.
At its AGM on 6 February 2013, INNOCENT elected Martin Foran to be its chairperson.
Martin is very enthusiastic about the work of INNOCENT and keen to raise public awareness of the growing problem of miscarriage of justice.
Martin was fitted up twice over 30 years ago, by members of the notorious West Midlands Serious Crime Squad. He has campaigned ever since to overturn his own convictions, and to help many others who are also suffering from terrible injustices due to the corruption of the criminal justice system. His 1985 convictions were overturned by the Court of Appeal in April 2013.
At its AGM on 5 February 2014, INNOCENT decided to stop holding meetings in Oldham at present, and hold them in Sheffield instead.