October 2011 – Saunders questions non-jury trial decision in light of phone hacking
On 13 October 2011, the Court of Appeal denied John Twomey a Supreme Court appeal over his twenty year conviction for armed robbery in the first trial of its kind without a jury for 300 years.
The appeal request centred on the suggestion that the decision to try Mr Twomey without a jury followed on secret evidence, not disclosed to Twomey's solicitors, given by the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, John Yates, who has since resigned from the Metropolitan Police on 18 July 2011, following a decision to suspend him from duty for reasons linked to his dealings with News International.
John Twomey's solicitors have written to Lord Judge seeking clarification of this which Lord Judge yesterday said he would "deal with in due course".
The significance of this is that, whilst Mr Yates was a serving Metropolitan police officer, another ex Metropolitan police officer with links to News International, John David Ross, was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in 2005 on suspicion of receiving leaked information from the Metropolitan Police.
Mr Ross left the Police force in 1982 following his trial at the Central Criminal Court for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in relation to his 1978 arrest of Mr Twomey, when he claimed to find a gun in Mr Twomey's possession. Mr Twomey gave evidence as part of Operation Countryman, the largest investigation into corruption at the Metropolitan Police, leading to the dismissal of other officers.
The then Commissioner of Police paid Mr Twomey substantial damages for false arrest and false imprisonment and tendered an apology to him. Mr Twomey believes the police still hold a grudge, leading to this injustice.
On Sunday 16 October 2011, Mr Twomey's wife Caroline and approximately 150 supporters organised a March for Justice to 10 Downing Street, delivering a letter to David Cameron at 2pm, calling on him to investigate.
James Saunders, Managing Partner of Saunders Law commented: "It has emerged that John Yates was identified by journalists as being at the hearing referred to. Following this evidence being given, the Court reversed the decision of Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, that a jury trial of Mr Twomey's case should proceed. We will in any event be taking Mr Twomey's complaints to the European Court of Human Rights."
Mrs. Twomey commented: "My husband was tried without a jury and sentenced to 20 years, based on secret evidence given to the Lord Chief Justice, by a highly controversial senior police officer. I am begging David Cameron, for the sake of John and my five kids to investigate how the first man to have a trial without jury since the time of Oliver Cromwell cannot be allowed to appeal."