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#332842 - 29th Jun 2009 11:53pm Michael Shields : pardon decision "within days"
_jase_
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Jailed Liverpool fan Michael: pardon decision "within days"



Jailed Liverpool fan Michael Shields will hear "within days" whether he is to be freed with a royal pardon.

According to the Ministry of Justice an announcement on the case will be made "in the next few days".

The long-awaited decision by Justice Secretary Jack Straw is widely expected to sweep aside the 2005 conviction of the Liverpool fan for attempted murder in Bulgaria.

Michael, 22, has served more than four years of a 10-year sentence for the attempted murder of Bulgarian bartender Martin Georgiev in the Black Sea resort of Varna.

He is currenlty held at Thorn Cross Prison in Cheshire and has been eligible for a pardon since last December when the High Court ruled that it would be legal under UK law.

Since then the student's release has been hampered by legal red tape.

First a top QC reviewed the case for Jack Straw and that was followed by the Justice Secretary ordering a Merseyside Police investigation of the evidence in the case.

Mr Straw has been expected to make his decision before the end of June since he indicated to the Shields family that the decision was unlikely to be earlier.

Asked today (monday 29th June) when a decision would be made a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: "An announcement will me made in the next few days."

Michael's conviction for attempted murder of a barman in Bulgaria in 2005 was identified as a miscarriage of justice in the High Court Judicial Review.

Michael's mother Marie Shields said: "We are just waiting, hoping and praying now that jack Straw will do the right thing and let Michael go.

"Michael is completely innocent and everyone who looks at his case can see that.

"Because of bad justice in Bulgaria and legal red tape in Britain he has spent the best years of his youth behind bars for a crime he did not commit.

"This waiting for a decision on a royal pardon from Jack Straw seems to have gone on for ever. It is agony waiting for a phone call to tell us he is free. My nerves are shattered."

"I fully understand, of course, that Michael Shields and his family want an early decision on his application and I shall do all I can to reach a conclusion as quickly as possible.

At the time that he ordered an investigation by Merseyside Police, Jack Straw said: "Given the work that needs to be done, it is only fair to say that a decision is unlikely to be made before the end of May.

"This is, I am sorry to say, longer than I had anticipated. But, the timescales are bound to be determined by the requirement of the inquiries."

Cllr Joe Anderson, leader of the opposition Labour group on Liverpool City Council is a leading campaigner for Michael's release.

Cllr Anderson said: "We are expecting the announcement any hour now. I'm sure Jack Straw will not want the embarrassment of delaying any further any running into July."

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#332956 - 30th Jun 2009 7:09pm Re: Michael Shields : pardon decision "within days" [Re: ]
_jase_
Unregistered


family call for Jack Straw to “put us out of our misery”




THE family of jailed Liverpool FC fan Michael Shields today pleaded with the government to “put us out of our misery”.

The justice ministry yesterday said there would be an announcement about the 22-year-old’s future over the next few days.

The Edge Hill student was jailed for 15 years in Bulgaria in 2005 for the attempted murder of a barman following Liverpool FC’s European Cup victory in Turkey.

Despite another man confessing to the attack, but later withdrawing his statement, Michael was locked up.

His sentence was reduced to 10 years on appeal.

At the start of the month, prime minister Gordon Brown told parliament Michael’s family would receive information by the end of the month.

Justice secretary Jack Straw had asked Merseyside police to look at the case against Michael and report back.

They did so several weeks ago, but no details of the inquiry have been released and his parents Michael snr and Marie are desperate for their son to be pardoned.

Yesterday, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “An announcement will be made in the next few days.

“That is all we can say.”

Michael’s dad Michael senior told the ECHO: “It is very hard waiting to hear the decision.

“Every time the phone rings, my stomach is in my mouth.

“I just want Jack Straw to put us out of our misery and let us know what decision he has come to.

“I do not know why it is taking so long for the annoucement to be made.

“Every day it gets harder and our nerves get worse. Michael is the same but it must be 10 times worse for him in there.”

Riverside MP Louise Ellman, who has championed Michael’s cause, said: “I asked the prime minister at the start of the month and he said Michael’s lawyers would be written to by the end of June. I spoke to Jack Straw on Thursday and asked him and he said it would be soon.

“I was hoping it would be yesterday or today, but I do not know if they are trying to deflect us.

“They are keeping their cards close to their chests.

“I speak to Jack Straw regularly and he just tells me how difficulty it is and I say how important it is.”

City councillor Joe Anderson, who has spearheaded the bid to pardon and release Michael, said: “We are waiting patiently.

“We have heard the stories about an imminent announcement.

“I have just spoken to Michael’s parents and they are pacing about.”

Michael was transferred to the UK to serve the remainder of his sentence, but his supporters have never halted their campaign to prove his innocence. He is in HMP Thorn Cross, in Warrington.

THE ECHO

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#333486 - 2nd Jul 2009 6:54pm Re: Michael Shields : pardon decision "within days" [Re: ]
_jase_
Unregistered


Michael Shields refused pardon




MICHAEL Shields will not be freed from jail early after he was refused a Royal Pardon today.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw announced the 22-year-old will not be pardoned after studying the results of a Merseyside police inquiry into his case.

But Mr Straw said he will review his decision if any further evidence surfaces which proves the Engineering student’s innocence.

Michael was understood to be devastated after he was informed of the News in his cell at Thorn cross prison in Warrington.

Unless there is a Government U-turn it means the Edge Hill Liverpool F.C. supporter will not be released until his sentence is completed in May 2010.

He was sentenced to 15 years for attempted murder following an attack in the Black Sea resort of Golden Sands, Bulgaria, in May 2005.

The justice minister insisted the evidence presented by campaigners and the Merseyside police inquiry he commissioned in February is not enough to prove Michael is “morally and technically innocent”, which, he adds, “is a very high test”.

City Labour leader Joe Anderson, who has led the campaign to free Michael, said: “This is outrageous. How Jack Straw can even use the word justice in his cabinet title is scandalous.

“He is not fit to be called the justice minister. The decision is an insult to everyone who believes in justice and the rights of the individual.

“The Government are officially keeping an innocent man in orison. It’s an absolute disgrace.”

The statement says: “Following a detailed and careful consideration of all the relevant evidence the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, has made a provisional decision that the application for a free pardon from Mr Michael Shields should be refused. The Ministry of Justice has written to Mr Shields today to convey this decision.

“The letter to Mr Shields provides a full explanation of the reasons for the Justice Secretary’s provisional decision.

“Mr Straw has made his decision in accordance with the High Court judgement of 17 December 2008 which indicated that, in order to grant a free pardon, he would have to be satisfied that Mr Shields was morally and technically innocent. The judgement stated:

“In principle… the grant of a free pardon would appear to require a conclusion that, taking the Bulgarian courts’ judgement for what it is and without calling in question its correctness on the material which those courts considered, fresh evidence which the Bulgarian courts did not consider, taken with the material which they did consider and their judgement upon it justifies a conclusion that Michael Shields is morally and technically innocent.”

“This is a very high test and the Justice Secretary has provisionally concluded that on the evidence he currently has that test is not met.

“The Justice Secretary recognises, of course, that many will be disappointed by his decision. But in exercising this quasi-judicial function he has adopted the approach that the Court expected him to adopt.

“Mr Shields can now submit any further representations he may want to make, after which the Justice Secretary will make a final decision on the evidence before him.”

JAILED Liverpool FC fan Michael Shields has been denied a pardon by the Justice Ministry.

Shields was told at 2pm of the decision, with a statement from the Ministry saying: “Following a detailed and careful consideration of all the relevant evidence the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, has made a provisional decision that the application for a free pardon from Mr Michael Shields should be refused. The Ministry of Justice has written to Mr Shields today to convey this decision.

“The letter to Mr Shields provides a full explanation of the reasons for the Justice Secretary’s provisional decision.

“Mr Straw has made his decision in accordance with the High Court judgment of 17 December 2008 which indicated that, in order to grant a free pardon, he would have to be satisfied that Mr Shields was morally and technically innocent.

"The judgment stated: “In principle… the grant of a free pardon would appear to require a conclusion that, taking the Bulgarian courts’ judgment for what it is and without calling in question its correctness on the material which those courts considered, fresh evidence which the Bulgarian courts did not consider, taken with the material which they did consider and their judgment upon it justifies a conclusion that Michael Shields is morally and technically innocent.”

“This is a very high test and the Justice Secretary has provisionally concluded that on the evidence he currently has that test is not met.

“The Justice Secretary recognises, of course, that many will be disappointed by his decision. But in exercising this quasi-judicial function he has adopted the approach that the Court expected him to adopt.

“Mr Shields can now submit any further representations he may want to make, after which the Justice Secretary will make a final decision on the evidence before him.”



THE ECHO

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