Michael Shields' family thank taxi cab drivers for support MICHAEL Shields’s father today said the support of more than 100 cabbies who drove past his home moved him to tears.
The window cleaner watched alongside wife Maria and wider family outside his Edge Hill home as the cavalcade of black cabs drove past to show their solidarity for his jailed son.
Michael, 22, is still coming to terms with the decision by Justice secretary Jack Straw to refuse him a pardon, meaning he may have to remain behind bars until next May.
His legal team are preparing one final bid to persuade Mr Straw to change his mind which must be ready for August 3.
Today Michael Snr said: “It was a very very emotional moment seeing all those taxis drive by beeping their horns and showing that they’re behind us.
“The whole city have lifted us since last Thursday and you wouldn’t believed the amount of flowers and cards we've had sent to the house.
“We’re so grateful to everyone for standing by us in what’s been an horrendous time. I feel very low at the moment but we’re not going to stop fighting.
“I just can’t understand why Jack Straw has wasted the tax payers’ money by getting Merseyside police to investigate Michael’s case and then ignore their findings.”
Cabbie Eddie Robb, who organised the drive past, said: “We were all on our Hanover Street rank when we heard the News
about Michael’s pardon being refused and we were talking about how unfair it was.
“I’ve got a 19-year-old lad and we watch Everton together and we went away to Nuremberg and Florence last year to watch our team.
“What happened to Michael could have happened to any young football fan from the city. His imprisonment is a wrong that needs righting. I just hope the Government can do the right thing.”
On Saturday, the ECHO revealed how the inquiry by respected Merseyside police investigator detective chief superintendent Brian McNeill found there were serious doubts over Michael’s conviction.
He concluded that the engineering student’s case would have been referred to the appeal courts and he would be released on license if it had happened in the UK.
Meanwhile, a candle-lit service of support has been arranged at Liverpool’ cathedral for 5pm on Saturday.
There will be a book where people can write messages to the Liverpool F.C. fan and a copy will be sent to him and to Jack Straw.
Michael, who has always maintained his innocence, is serving his sentence at Thorn Cross Young Offenders Institute, in Appleton Thorn, Warrington, and is due to be released in May 2010 after serving five years.
Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool, Riverside, who has campaigned on behalf of her constituent, Shields, from the moment he was first arrested, said today: “I believe the Merseyside Police report is very compelling and very strong.
“It appears that insufficient weight was given to this powerful report compiled by the police who investigated the case at the request of Jack Straw.”
Michael was also able to speak on the phone to one of his heroes on Saturday, Reds defender Jamie Carragher, who visited the family home to comfort the Shields family alongside hit playwright Dave Kirkby.
Liverpool players helped raise the £97,000 fine which had to be paid to Bulgaria before the supporter was allowed to leave the country and return to the UK to serve his sentence nearer home. THE ECHO