CCRC “Further investigation needed” in Ched Evans Rape Appeal Application

Ched Evans
Ched Evans

The panel assessing Ched Evans’ latest attempt to have his rape conviction overturned have said further investigation is needed before they can announce a decision.

A committee of three commissioners from the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) met on Tuesday to discuss the former Wales and Sheffield United footballer’s case.

They could have decided whether the conviction should be referred for appeal.

However, a CCRC spokeswoman said: “The Committee decided that further investigation was needed before it meets again to make a final decision on whether or not to refer Mr Evans’ conviction back to the Court of Appeal.”

No date has been fixed for the next meeting.

Once the committee has reached a provisional or final decision, it is typically several days or even weeks before the applicant and others are informed of the conclusion.

Evans applied for a review by the CCRC last year. The 26-year-old was released from prison last year after serving half of his five year sentence for the rape of a 19-year-old woman in a hotel in Rhyl in April 2012.

The footballer has always maintained his innocence. An earlier appeal against his conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012.

Evans has made attempts to restart his career but potential moves to Oldham Athletic and his former club Sheffield United collapsed in the face of public outcry.

Dragons Den Star Charged With Sex Offences

Doug Richards
Doug Richard

A former Dragons’ Den star has been charged with child sex offences.

Doug Richard, who acted as an adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, is accused of three counts of sexual activity with a child and one of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

The offences took place in January and relate to one victim who was aged 13 at the time, it is alleged.

Caroline Hughes, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “We have carefully considered the evidence gathered by City of London Police in relation to Douglas Richard, 57, who was arrested on 5 January this year.

“Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Douglas Richard to be charged with three counts of sexual activity with a child and one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

“The alleged offences occurred on 2 January 2015 and relate to one victim aged 13 at the time.

“The decision to prosecute has been taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.”

Richard will appear at City of London Magistrates’ Court on October 5.

The American-born millionaire, who appeared on BBC’s Dragons’ Den in the first two series, reportedly travelled with the Prime Minister on an official government trip to Africa and advised on policy.

His association with Mr Cameron goes back to at least 2008, when the then oOpposition leader invited the technology entrepreneur to write a report about small business in Britain.

He founded a business loans initiative called School For Startups, alongside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Max Clifford to appear in court

Jimmy_max_and_garyMax Clifford is to appear in court charged with one count of indecent assault.

The former publicist, who is accused of committing the offence in 1981, will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Baljit Ubhey, chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, said earlier this month when news of the charge was announced: “We have carefully considered the evidence gathered as part of Operation Yewtree in relation to Max Clifford, who was arrested at Littlehey Prison on March 12.

“Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr Clifford to be charged with one offence of indecent assault.”

Scotland Yard said Clifford was charged with indecent assault on a woman aged over 16.

Clifford represented some of the biggest names in show business – including pop mogul Simon Cowell, reality TV star Jade Goody and boxer Muhammad Ali – in a career that spanned more than 40 years.

He became famous for brokering deals with the tabloids for kiss and tell stories and was behind the tale that spawned the infamous headline Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster.

Coulson fights legal costs order

Andy Coulson
Andy Coulson

Disgraced former Number 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson returned to court today to fight a legal bid to make him pay £750,000 towards the cost of the phone hacking trial.

Last July, the 47-year-old ex-editor of the News of the World was handed an 18-month jail sentence after being found guilty of plotting at the tabloid to eavesdrop on private voicemails for scoops following the nine-month trial. He served less than five months behind bars before being released in November last year, only to go on trial again in Scotland on a perjury charge, which later collapsed.

The married father-of-three sat in the Old Bailey as his lawyer argued against an order to pay his share of the prosecution costs of the earlier Old Bailey case.

The court heard the Crown was seeking £750,000 from Coulson plus £111,000 from former NotW news editor Ian Edmondson, who also attended court.

Coulson’s lawyer said no more than £375,000 would be a fair sum while Edmondson, due to his financial circumstances, should pay nothing at all, the court heard.

But as Alison Pople QC set out her reasons for the reduction, Mr Justice Saunders cut in to query reports that Coulson was about to cash in from a book deal.

He said: “There has been a suggestion made that Coulson might be raising a lot of money by writing a book. I have no idea but that has been written in the press.

“I would wish to be informed if there is actual or current intentions or negotiations going on as to that.”

Ms Pople replied: “So much that is written in the press is outside the scope of these applications.”

But the senior judge pressed: “It was raised after the case in Scotland was finished. We don’t all live in vacuums as may be suggested.”

The lawyer replied: “Coulson doesn’t have a publishing agreement with any publisher. He has not been offered a publishing agreement and he is not writing a book.”

She went on to say that Coulson, who lives in the picturesque Kent village of Charing, had a problem with his mortgage before his conviction and it had been even harder since.

He has no guarantee of regular income now or in the future, making re-mortgaging impossible, she said.

After being shown a valuation on Coulson’s home, Mr Justice Saunders commented that it was “more than my house is worth but it’s not an astronomical amount”.

He went on to point out that Coulson was educating his three children privately.

Ms Pople responded: “His is relying on the generosity of his friends to educate his children privately. It’s a loan.

“Coulson was in an unprecedented public glare in the course of his trial. With the assistance of close and loyal friends he has been able to maintain that position as far as his sons are concerned.

“What the future holds depends on your Lordship’s order and his ability to work, and the extent his friends continue to be close and loyal.”

The court also heard of Edmondson’s financial state as his lawyer David Chandler suggested he should not pay anything at all towards the cost of the first hacking trial.

Last autumn, Edmondson, 46, of Raynes Park, south-west London, pleaded guilty to the hacking plot as he was about to face a retrial, having been dropped midway through the original trial with Coulson due to ill health.

Since he served two months of an eight-month sentence, he has been living alone in his four-bedroom house – worth more than Coulson’s – which is near to his children and estranged wife.

Mr Chandler said: “He faces regular rejection of his applications for work based on the outcome of his case. He has very little confidence in his ability to earn money, it has been exceptionally difficult for him to find work.

“His monthly outgoings are far in excess of his income. He has £5,000 in a savings account and equity in his home.

“He trudges the streets of London from meeting to meeting to find people who will give him work and it’s a constant struggle.

“He served two months in prison and when on curfew he was unable to attend meetings in the evenings or travel outside London for two months.”

He has had no News International funding and if he was forced to sell his house he would have to move out of London and away from his children to find a property which could accommodate their visits.

Mr Chandler added: “The consequences of selling the house would be devastating. Edmondson simply does not have the money to pay any just or reasonable costs order.”

Mr Justice Saunders reserved his judgement on the matter.

Jane Andrews to be released say Parole Board

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janeandrews

Former royal aide Jane Andrews, who was jailed for stabbing her boyfriend to death in 2001, is to be released from prison, the Parole Board has said.

She flew into a rage when he told her he had no intention of marrying her and, while he was asleep, battered him with a cricket bat and then stabbed him to death.

The Secretary of State will now rule on her release date.

A spokesman for the Parole Board said two men and one woman made the decision and added: “We can confirm that a three member panel of the Parole Board has directed the release of Jane Andrews.

“The decision to release is a matter for the Board, which is independent – arrangements and the date of the release are a matter for the Secretary of State for Justice.

“We are unable to comment further on the details of this case.”

The killer will be bankrolled into new found freedom – with a nest-egg from property sales she made in jail.

She is now set to use the cash windfall to fund her eventual release.

Last night a shocked relative of her victim warned that the former flunkey was still volatile, and posed a serious threat to men if her future relationships imploded.

Tom’s older brother Rick Cressman, aged 64 years, insisted that Andrews had never shown remorse.

And he recently warned the Parole Board examining her freedom bid not to be swayed by any belated apology she might make to achieve it.

Rick had previously said Andrews should be accompanied by a public health warning, like those on cigarette packets.

Friends are understood to have alerted his family, who wanted Andrews to stay in jail, to prepare themselves for her release which the three man Parole Board yesterday approved.

Rick insisted yesterday: “Her getting parole is against our wishes and is a devastating blow to all of us.”

Andrews has already served an extra two-years on top of the 11 year life sentence tariff imposed at the Old Bailey in 2001.

She subsequently lost a previous freedom bid on the grounds that she remained a danger to the opposite sex.

Now aged 46 years, Andrews stabbed her ex stock broker partner with a kitchen knife and battered him with a cricket bat before fleeing – leading to her former boss, Sarah Ferguson, appealing for her to surrender.

While serving life at HMP Send, near Guildford, Surrey, she sold her flat overlooking Battersea Park, London, two-years-ago, making a reported £300,000 profit.

This enabled her to buy another dwelling, a terraced house in Angmering, near Worthing, West Sussex, costing around £300k – which again she sold recently.

It means that the working class girl from Grimsby, the ambitious daughter of a joiner and a social worker mother, is likely to be switched to an open prison in preparation for her release.

She now has a healthy bank balance, either to invest, or help her get back on to the property ladder, when she is finally released.

Rick claimed Tom would have helped her to buy the London property, or at least made contributions to her mortgage payments, before she murdered him.

“Andrews is still devious and her personality hasn’t changed,” he insisted last night.

The volatile ex-royal aide has made three suicide attempts. Her first was when she was 15, after her mother discovered her truancy. She made a second bid after trashing the home of the son of a Greek shipping millionaire who had dumped her.

Her final bid to end her life came after she fled Tom’s murder and went on the run, hiding in her getaway car in a roadside lay by in Cornwall.

Andrews married aged 17 but divorced five years later claiming she had been abused.

Strangely, she was never punished for escaping from a previous open prison, East Sutton Park, Kent.

The £19,000 a year Royal servant, who saw Fergie’s job advertised in The Lady magazine, was jailed following a sensational trial at the Old Bailey, in which she dressed every day, head to toe, in black as if to show the jury she was in mourning.

Following his wedding snub, she murdered her partner at his home in Fulham, West London, following a holiday in Italy.

Rolf Harris stripped of honours

RolfHarris

Rolf Harris has been stripped of his Australian honours following his conviction for sexually assaulting four British girls.

The disgraced television star, artist and songwriter was found guilty last year of indecently assaulting the girls, who included the childhood best friend of his daughter Bindi, between 1969 and 1986.

The decision to take back his honours was gazetted by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Australia.

“It is notified for general information that the Governor-General has terminated the appointments of Officer and Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division, made to Mr. Rolf Harris,” the notice said.

Harris was found guilty of 12 assaults against the four girls, who included an eight-year-old autograph hunter. He was jailed for five years and nine months.

“You have shown no remorse for your crimes at all,” Nigel Sweeney, the trial judge said as he handed down his sentence.

Seven of the 12 counts related to Bindi’s friend, including one incident when she was 15 where he seriously sexually assaulted her while his daughter slept in the adjacent bed.

Harris was the second person to be convicted under a wide-ranging police investigation set up in the wake of revelations that the late Jimmy Savile, a fellow major BBC star, was a prolific abuser.

His case caused widespread revulsion in Britain, where his television programmes were watched by millions of children, and in his homeland.

Harris is also a CBE and even painted the Queen’s portrait to mark her 80th birthday. Harris was again questioned by police regarding sex offence allegations earlier this month.

Clifford loses sentence challenge

Jimmy_max_and_gary

Disgraced PR guru Max Clifford has lost a challenge against his eight-year jail sentence for sex offences.

The sentence was upheld by three Court of Appeal judges in London today.

Clifford, 71, was jailed in May after being convicted of a string of indecent assaults, carried out between 1977 and 1984, using his celebrity connections to lure women.

The former celebrity agent, who branded his accusers “fantasists”, denied the charges, but was convicted at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

Announcing the appeal court’s decision, Lord Justice Treacy, who heard the case with Mr Justice Turner and Judge Michael Pert, said the sentence was “justified”.

At a recent appeal hearing, Clifford’s barrister Richard Horwell QC told the three judges that Clifford’s last offence was committed 29 years ago, “since when he has led an industrious life, and devoted a considerable part of his time to charitable works for which he has raised substantial funds”.

The trial judge had “accepted that he is no longer a danger to women and that he will not commit further offences”.

Mr Horwell said that for a number of reasons the sentence imposed was “too long”, adding: “Although the sentencing process must reflect modern attitudes, and I fully accept that that is our law, the sentencing process must not abandon common sense and fairness.”

Rosina Cottage QC, for the Crown, said the total sentence imposed was one the trial judge was “entitled to reach”.

When sentencing Clifford, Judge Anthony Leonard told him his personality and position in the public eye were the reasons his crimes were not revealed earlier.

He said: “The reason why they were not brought to light sooner was because of your own dominant character and your position in the world of entertainment which meant that your victims thought that you were untouchable, something that I think you too believed.”

He added: “These offences may have taken place a long time ago, when inappropriate and trivial sexual behaviour was more likely to be tolerated, but your offending was not trivial, but of a very serious nature.”

Clifford is currently serving his sentence at Littlehey Category C men’s prison in Cambridgeshire.

Announcing the court’s decision today, Lord Justice Treacy said: “It seems to us that, after consideration of the individual offences and the application of modern sentencing attitudes reflected in the guidelines, but tempered by the need to have regard to the statutory maximum available at the time, an overall sentence of eight years was justified and correct.”

It was a “just and proportionate” sentence “taking account of considerations of harm and culpability together with aggravating factors and such mitigation as was available to the appellant”.

Lord Justice Treacy said Clifford was sentenced to a total of eight years on eight counts of indecent assault relating to four victims who were “young and vulnerable” at the time of the offences.

He said: “Each was affected in respect of confidence and relationships and was harmed by what had been done to her.”

In considering the seriousness of any offence the court “must consider the offender’s culpability and any harm which the offence caused”.

The judge said: “Sexual offending will by its very nature cause harm at the time the offence is committed, but it is well recognised that for many victims significant harm persists for a considerable period afterwards.

“This is a case where it is clear that the effect of what was done to the victims was not something from which they recovered quickly.

“The appellant’s actions towards these victims had long term consequences for their lives. This is clearly a highly material circumstance for this court to consider.”

Rolf Harris in appeal bid

RolfHarris

Disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris has applied for permission to appeal against his convictions for a string of indecent assaults.

A spokesman for the Judicial Office confirmed that lawyers for the 84-year-old had lodged papers at the Court of Appeal this week.

The artist and musician was convicted of 12 indecent assaults on June 30 at Southwark Crown Court – one on an eight-year-old autograph hunter, two on girls in their early teens and a catalogue of abuse of his daughter’s friend over 16 years.

The court will now consider whether to grant permission for him to continue with his appeal bid.

Harris, a family favourite for decades, was finally unmasked as a predator who was fixated with under-age girls during his trial, with jurors told how his 16-year campaign of sex abuse against his daughter’s friend ”haunted” her and made her abandon her dreams as he continued to be adored by millions of fans worldwide.

His fall from grace was underlined as he was stripped of a Bafta fellowship and accolades in his native Australia were removed, and he faces losing his prestigious CBE.

The performer’s multi-million pound fortune is also at risk from potential compensation claims.

Harris was jailed for five years and nine months for the sex abuse, meaning that he is due to serve just under three years for the crimes, which spanned between 1968 and 1986.

Earlier this week the Attorney-General’s Office confirmed that the sentence would not be referred to the Court of Appeal for being unduly lenient.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright decided not to take action despite his office receiving 150 complaints about the leniency of Harris’s sentence, of which he will serve half, although it only takes one complaint to trigger the review process.

Surge in sex offenders in jail

RolfHarris

A surge in the number of convicted sex offenders behind bars has forced the Government to rethink its response to the problem.

Most recent statistics show that as of March 31 there were 11,150 sentenced sex offenders in custody – a rise of 652 over 12 months, compared with an increase of 152 in the previous year.

And the number of sex offenders in prison almost doubled between 2003 and 2013, with the average sentence length increasing from 40 months in 2003 to more than 59 months in 2013.

Ministry of Justice officials said resources are now being targeted on a smaller number of longer, more intensive programmes for the most serious offenders, rather than providing treatment to lower risk offenders, who have lower rates of reoffending.

The shift in approach has been revealed just hours ahead of a fresh batch of statistics on offender management and proven reoffending.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “As a Government we make no apologies for putting sex offenders where they deserve – in jail.

“But when they are there it is important that we deal with their offending behaviour – that means programmes consistent with the best evidence, targeted at those who pose the greatest threat.

“I don’t want a one-size-fits-all approach which costs the taxpayer lots of money and doesn’t reduce the risk posed by the most serious offenders.”

There are eight prisons that wholly deal with sex offenders at Albany, Usk, Bure, Whatton, Ashfield, Stafford, Rye Hill and Littlehey. More than 20 prisons offer specialist treatment.

Investment in all offending behaviour programmes has increased by £280,000 in the last 12 months for those delivered in prison and increased by £1.4 million for those delivered in the community, the Ministry of Justice said.

In addition, more specialist drug treatments designed to curb sexual urges are being used after research at HMP Whatton.

Coulson jailed for 18 months but will be freed in January

Andy-Coulson

Disgraced No 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson was jailed for 18 months today for plotting to hack phones while he was in charge of the News of the World – and he’ll be out in 6 months.

The 46-year-old father of three was found guilty last week of conspiring to intercept voicemails at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid following an eight-month trial at the Old Bailey.

Coulson, from Charing, in Kent, was joined in the dock by three former colleagues and private detective Glenn Mulcaire who all admitted their part in hacking before the trial started last year.

Judge Mr Justice Saunders told the defendants: “I do not accept ignorance of the law provides any mitigation.

“The laws of protection are given to the rich, famous and powerful as to all.”

The judge said Coulson clearly thought it was necessary to use phone hacking to maintain the newspaper’s “competitive edge”.

And he said the delay in the News of the World telling police about the Milly Dowler voicemail in 2002 showed the motivation was to “take credit for finding her” and sell the maximum number of newspapers.

The judge said: “Mr Coulson has to take the major shame for the blame of phone hacking at the NotW. He knew about it, he encouraged it when he should have stopped it.”

There was no reaction from Coulson as he was jailed by the judge.

NotW news editor Greg Miskiw, 64, from Leeds; chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, 52, of Esher, Surrey; and news editor James Weatherup, 58, of Brentwood in Essex, were also sentenced today after all admitted one general count of conspiring together and with others to illegally access voicemails between October 2000 and August 2006.

Miskiw and Thurlbeck were each jailed for six months.

Weatherup was jailed for four months, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work.

Mulcaire was jailed for six months, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work.

According to Mulcaire’s notes, Miskiw tasked him 1,500 times, Thurlbeck 261 times and Weatherup 157 times, the court heard.

Mr Justice Saunders told them: “All the defendants that I have to sentence, save for Mr Mulcaire are distinguished journalists who had no need to behave as they did to be successful.

“They all achieved a great deal without resorting to the unlawful invasion of other people’s privacy. Those achievements will now count for nothing.

“I accept that their reputations and their careers are irreparably damaged.”

Weatherup and Mulcaire both declined to comment as they left the courtroom.

Mulcaire, who was paid around half a million pounds by the NotW, was first convicted of phone hacking with royal reporter Clive Goodman in 2006.

Following the renewed police investigation into the full extent of hacking, he admitted three more counts of conspiring to hack phones plus a fourth count of hacking the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002 – an act which eventually led to the closure of the NotW in 2011.

While Coulson was in charge, the NotW was hacking a host of royals, celebrities, politicians and ordinary members of the public on an industrial scale amid intense competition for exclusive stories, the trial heard.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said the Sunday tabloid was “utterly corrupt” and “became a thoroughly criminal enterprise”.

The list of victims whose private lives were invaded read like a “Who’s Who of Britain in the first five years of the century”, he said.

In mitigation, Coulson’s lawyer Timothy Langdale QC said at the time, no one in the newspaper industry realised phone hacking was illegal and the company lawyers did not even tell him.

Earlier this week, Thurlbeck’s lawyer said Coulson had not been truthful in his evidence and he never ordered his client to stop phone hacking when he told him about David Blunkett’s voicemail to Kimberly Quinn in 2004.

Hugh Davies QC said: “No such disapproval of the practice was given by Mr Coulson. There was no direction to stop.”

Weatherup’s lawyer said phone hacking was “endemic” at the NotW and ultimate responsibility lay at more “senior editorial levels”.

Charles Bott QC said: “We have gone from rogue reporter to rogue reporter-plus – but neither of those reflect the truth. Phone hacking was condoned and encouraged by senior managers at the NotW for the simple reason it was an expedient and cost-effective way to obtain information.”

Miskiw’s lawyer Trevor Burke QC asked the judge to take account of his early guilty plea and the fact he had expressed “genuine remorse”.

Gavin Millar QC, for Mulcaire, said his client had already been jailed for phone hacking in 2007 and questioned whether he should be punished again.

Since he served his time, the married 43-year-old from Sutton in south London had not only faced bankruptcy but also become the “personification” of the NotW scandal in the media, he said.

Coulson’s co-defendants Rebekah Brooks and managing editor Stuart Kuttner denied any wrongdoing and were cleared of all charges last week.

The prosecution had applied for £750,000 costs to be paid following the 139-day trial. The maximum sentence for phone hacking is two years in prison.

Mark Leech, the editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisons in England and Wales said Coulson will be out in the New Year.
“Andy Coulson was sentenced to 18 months of which he will serve half and, additionally, he is eligible for release three months earlier than that on Home Detention Curfew – so he’ll be released in six months or around 4th January.”