You may have seen the coverage in the Daily Mail today, Monday 19 September, regarding the CCRC case of Alexander Blackman (Marine A) and criticising the Commission for “disgraceful delays” in its conduct of the case.
We do not accept that the criticisms made of the Commission are fair. We set out our position in the following statement which was sent to the Daily Mail on Friday 16 September.
The CCRC received Mr Blackman’s application on 16 December 2015. It was decided to allocate the case as a priority. This meant that it would not wait in the CCRC’s chronological queue of cases in the normal way, but instead a review would begin as soon as was possible. The review of the case began in January 2016, and the case has been under active review since that time.
This is a complex case where the CCRC has been provided with a large volume of written argument and supporting materials. The CCRC is pursuing a number of lines of enquiry, including issues which have been raised by Mr Blackman’s representatives, and other issues which the CCRC considers to be of relevance. The CCRC has a duty to conduct an objective and independent assessment of the arguments which have been raised. We cannot reach a decision in a case until we have tested and given proper scrutiny to the arguments which have been raised.
Throughout the review, the CCRC has provided Mr Blackman’s representatives with regular written updates on the case. In addition, CCRC staff met with Mr Blackman’s representatives in person on 27 April, at the CCRC’s offices. There was a detailed and productive discussion about the case, and all involved considered that the meeting had been a positive one. Mr Blackman’s representatives and supporters subsequently circulated a positive comment about the CCRC’s work via the Justice for Marine “A” Facebook page (the comment is reproduced below).
With regard to the investigators who are involved in this case, there are three members of staff with conduct of the review. Following an internal promotion, one of the team has recently been replaced by a different member of staff. This is not an unusual situation, and the CCRC has established procedures to ensure that no time is lost as a result of this kind of staff change. In no sense does the change mean that the review is “starting afresh”.
With regard to your other two queries regarding points from the review, unfortunately we are unable publically to comment on the details of a specific case while it is under review. However, we will be keeping Mr Blackman’s representatives updated on progress.
Lastly, we understand the public concern that cases be reviewed and decided as expeditiously as possible. The CCRC would like to stress that this application is being progressed as efficiently and thoroughly as possible.
From the Justice for Marine ‘A’ Facebook page on 27 April 2016.
Jonathan Goldberg QC, his first junior Jeffrey Israel and Claire Blackman met by invitation today with the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) at their offices in Birmingham. A friendly and wide-ranging discussion took place which is best kept confidential for now. Whilst the CCRC are not yet in a position to provide an indication of timescales or their decision, it was very clear to us that they are working tirelessly to investigate every aspect of the case (to which they have given their top level of priority) with thoroughness. It was a positive meeting in which we were assured that the CCRC are doing their best to balance expedition and thoroughness. It was also clear to us that they have already acquired an impressive grasp of the issues and the formidable detail of Al’s case, and overall we left there feeling encouraged.
On the subject of donations from Daily Mail readers to Sergeant Blackman’s campaign, the CCRC also reiterated, in its contact with the Daily Mail on Friday 16 September, that the CCRC is a publically funded organisation, and so its review has not received any money from readers’ donations.