Michael Shields released
Jailed Liverpool football fan Michael Sheilds has today (9.9.09) been released with a royal pardon. Human rights barrister Pete Weatherby of GCN has been counsel for Michael throughout the campaign for his release. This is the first ever British pardon of someone convicted abroad.
Pete Weatherby has been involved in this case, instructed by John Weate of RMNJ Solicitors , virtually since the end of the Bulgarian appeals in 2006 and appeared in the following key developments in the case:
- Lodged several applications for a re-opening of the case in Bulgaria and for a pardon there.
- Debated Tsoni Tsonev, member of Supreme Judicial Council of Bulgaria (May 2009 more ) who was the most senior Bulgarian lawyer instructed by the State. During the debate Mr Tsonev conceded that there were doubts over the conviction. It is believed this is the first time a miscarriage case has been debated before the European Parliament (under consideration in the debate was the Stateâs adherence to the ârule of lawâ enshrined in the EU Treaty).
- Two meetings with the Secretary of State for Justice and also with officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
- Successfully Judicially Reviewed Jack Straw on the issue of whether he had power to pardon (December 2008 more )
- Made the submissions on the pardon.
- Made further submissions once the Secretary of State had indicated a provisional view against the pardon.
This has been one of the most shocking miscarriage cases of modern times. It involved a massive public campaign with thousands demonstrating for Michaelâs release and signing petitions. It attracted the open support of Louise Ellman MP who led four debates in the House of Commons on the issue, Arlene McCarthy MEP who raised it in the European Parliament and forced the debate with the Bulgarians, Councillor Joe Anderson (leader of the Labour Group on Liverpool City Council), the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, Liverpool FC particularly Rafa Benitez, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, and Xavi Alonso, Sue Johnson, Ricky Tomlinson, Brendan Barber (Gen Sec of the TUC), Len Woodley (Gen Sec Unite) and countless others. Many more made private representations to Jack Straw. Importantly, the issue was regularly reported by local and national media and was the subject of two broadcast documentaries.
- the interview was broadcast on 9/9/09 at 6.04pm - the show can be heard for the next 5 days via the "Listen Again" service online by clicking on the link above. You should then fast forward through the first 2.04 hours of the programme to reach the interview.
- the report was broadcast at 10.09pm and can be watched via the BBC iPlayer service. You should fast forward through the first 9 minutes of the broadcast to the report on Michael Shields. A short interview with Pete Weatherby appears within the report.