Seven CCRC Commissioners have been reappointed for a second five-year term.
Decisions about whether cases can be referred are always taken by one or more CCRC Commissioners who are chosen for their professional experience and ability to make important decisions in complicated matters.
CCRC Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice. This brings to 11 the number of current CCRC Commissioners.
CCRC Chairman Helen Pitcher OBE said: “I am delighted the CCRC has been able to retain the experience, knowledge and skills of our current Commissioners. This ensures we remain in a strong position to carry on our work.”
The reappointments are:
David Brown is an Associate Inspector with HM Inspectorate of Fire and Rescue Services. David spent 32 years in the London Fire Brigade and in 2016 he was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal. David is a Lay Panel member on the investigating committee for the Nursing and Midwifery Council and is supporting the Boundary Commission for England in reviewing Parliamentary constituencies. He currently serves as a magistrate in the adult criminal court.
Ian Comfort is a barrister of the Inner Temple and chartered legal executive. He is a legally qualified chair for the Medical Practitioners Tribunal and the Taxation Disciplinary Board and chairs panels for the Health and Care Professions Tribunal. He was appointed as a magistrate in 1984 and is a presiding justice in West London sitting in both adult and youth courts.
Rachel Ellis is an Ombudsman with the Financial Ombudsman Service. Alongside this, she chairs Fitness to Practise Committees for the Nursing and Midwifery Council, is an Independent Panel Member on police misconduct committees and is also a Panel Member for the Independent Betting Adjudication Service. Rachel previously practised as a criminal barrister acting for both the prosecution and defence.
Jill Gramann served on the Sentencing Council as the lay judicial member for three years, with specific responsibility for the development of sentencing guidelines for domestic abuse, and theft. Until 2017, Jill was also a Non-Executive Director of Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust and has held board positions on both SCOPE and BILD. Previously she founded and led an attitudinal research consultancy for 30 years. She was a magistrate from 1990 until 2017 and has held a number of posts within the magistracy including three years as a bench chairman and chair of the Judicial Issues Group for West Mercia.
Johanna Higgins is a barrister and Bencher of the Inner Temple, London, who has also been called to the Bar in Northern Ireland and the Bar in Dublin. Johanna gained criminal practice experience as a Senior Public Prosecutor in Northern Ireland. She now sits as a member of the Legal Aid Appeal Board NI and is a member of the Independent Expert Panel, appointed by the House of Commons.
Linda Lee is a solicitor specialising in regulatory and disciplinary law at national law firm Radcliffes Le Brasseur. She is a Past President of the Law Society of England and Wales and has held various key roles at the Law Society. She is currently Chair of the Law Society’s Professional Indemnity Insurance Committee and is a longstanding member of the Access to Justice Committee. A former President of the Medico-Legal Society, she remains an active member of its Council. She lectures and writes on legal and regulatory issues and is a director of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting. Linda holds a number of quasi-judicial roles, predominantly for regulators, and also sits as a Deputy District Judge (Civil).
Rob Ward QC (Hon) is a barrister who has had an extensive career as a Government lawyer specialising in national security law, including counter-terrorism. Rob led the legal branch at the Ministry of Defence during a period of substantial change and expansion. He is the co-author of leading textbooks on sexual offences law and national security law.
This press release was issued by the Communications Team, Criminal Cases Review Commission. They can be contacted by phone on: 0121 232 0900 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editors
- The CCRC is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.
- There are currently 11 Commissioners who bring to the CCRC considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.
- The CCRC usually receives around 1,400 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Since starting work in 1997, the CCRC has referred around 3% of applications to the appeal courts.
- The CCRC considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal. Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.
- If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.