MICHAEL Shields can be legally pardoned and freed by Jack Straw, the High Court ruled today.
The landmark decision was announced by Londonís Royal Court of Justice this afternoon following a hearing on December 4.
It is understood that the Justice Secretary will not appeal the decision made by the court, and will now start the process for a review of the case.
It is an embarrassing twist for the justice secretary, who has repeatedly insisted he does not have the power pardon or free the Edge Hill engineering student.
Now campaigners will crank up the pressure on Mr Straw to release the Liverpool F.C. fan who is set to be moved to an open prison.
City Labour leader Joe Anderson and MP Louise Ellman were gathered with Michaelís parents Michael and Marie, and sisters Laura and Melissa, at the Shields family home in Towerlands St as the News
Previously, barristers representing Mr Straw had argued the government cannot give Michael a pardon without re-examining the judgements in a Bulgarian court.
And they insisted Mr Straw was forbidden from doing that under the terms of the international convention for prisoner transfer, used to return Shields to the UK.
It was also announced earlier this month that Michael will be transferred from Haverigg prison in Cumbria, where he is currently behind bars, to an open jail.
During the earlier court hearing more than 50 members of Michaelís family and friends, city Labour leader Joe Anderson and MP Louise Ellman, heard details of new evidence allegedly underlining Michaelís innocence.
His barrister Peter Weatherby listed evidence which previous appeal courts in Bulgaria were unable to hear.
Lord Justice May also suggested repatriated prisoners were ďin a distinctly worse positionĒ than those convicted in the UK, because Mr Strawís legal team argued subsequent evidence proving their innocence cannot be considered.