Author Topic: Those outside prison fighting one another  (Read 5318 times)

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Offline Nicholas

Re: Those outside prison fighting one another
« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2018, 04:29:00 PM »
University innocence projects: where are they now? Asks Jon Robbins founder of the justice gap
Only one conviction has ever been overturned on the strength of a university innocence project’s work in the UK – what’s going on? And what’s next for these projects?

Author: Jon Robins

UK’s first specialist miscarriage of justice law firm goes live

Emily Bolton and the Criminal Appeals Org

Dr Michael Naughton blogs Posted on August 25, 2017:
"The need for due diligence on Twitter to avoid getting involved with people who you might not want to if you knew who they really were"
Earlier this month (August 2017), a row erupted on my Twitter timeline of the like I have not previously witnessed amongst what might loosely be called the ‘prison reform community’, comprised of former prisoners, family members of currently serving and former prisoners, prison lawyers, students and academics. It wasn’t the usual handbags at dawn kind of spat that frequently occur on Twitter. This was of a different order, culminating in Alex Cavendish, who went by the handle @PrisonUK, deleting his account altogether and retreating into obscurity.
Over the last two or three years, Alex Cavendish had become a prominent source of information on prison matters, you might say the go-to “twit” on all things prisons. He had upwards of 10K followers, which is huge in this area, with influencing marketing platform Klear deeming him the ‘Top 7% Twitter Influencer in the Prisons community.’
Alex, supplemented his Twitter activity with a very informative prison blog, which has not been deleted, and had also written a series of interesting and insightful articles for The Metro on prison issues, covering such things as votes for prisoners, prison letters, prison riots and rape and sexual assault in prison.
Things came abruptly to a head for Alex, however, when he was outed as a convicted child sex offender whose real name is Mark Standish. The revelation had a polarising effect, with competing perspectives available here and here.
Critics of Standish, the most vocal of which are themselves former prisoners, were adamant that it was not the fact that he was a convicted offender or even sex offender that was the problem. Rather, using a pseudonym was felt to be a deceit, amongst other things, that when discovered raised questions about the veracity of the information that he disseminated.
His refusal to engage or answer questions from his followers when his real identity was exposed and to delete his account entirely, making verification now impossible, only seemed to compound matters for critics by increasing suspicions and feelings of betrayal of trust.
This highlights the need for due diligence on Twitter (and other social media for that matter) to avoid getting involved with (or hurt by) people who you might not want to if you knew who they really were.
Due diligence was not possible with Alex Cavendish because it was not his real name. If you did search his name, which I did, you went round in circles from his Twitter account to his blog to his Metro articles and back again – everything seemed to validate each other but there was no external validation at all.
So, real names are vital so that you can do due diligence and make an informed choice about who you are getting involved with, promoting their agenda, liking their tweets, possibly making friendships and sharing personal information via direct messages, and so forth.
I am uncertain of the law in this area so will not provide the name of the person in this next example, which is the principal motivation for this blog post.
I was recently contacted by a (then) Twitter follower with an invite to contribute to a project that he was involved with.
In terms of due diligence, I looked up the website of the project and saw someone who I recognised and whose work I respect was involved with it so I agreed to meet him at a café across from my office to learn more about it and the part, if any, that I might play.
On my way to meet him, however, I realised that I didn’t know his name – he has a Twitter account in the name of the project – and I didn’t know what he looked like – his picture on the Twitter account is rather abstract and you cannot make out what he looks like.
As I approached the café, a man was already standing outside. I noticed straightaway that the obscure picture on Twitter is not of him but of someone who looks altogether different. I asked him if he was waiting for me and he said he was as he recognised me from my photo on my webpage on the University of Bristol website.
I asked him his name but he declined saying that he didn’t feel comfortable giving me his name, but assuring me that he had good reason not to. I told him that I wasn’t prepared to have a meeting with him unless he told me his name and after some back and forth rather prised his name out of him.
I immediately put his name into Google on my phone to very quickly find that he was convicted of a highly publicised and most pernicious and disturbing gendered crime against a young woman, the like of which would certainly make most (particularly women) want to steer clear of him altogether.
He protested all the time that I was searching and reading what I found, saying such things as he was a miscarriage of justice, that I shouldn’t believe the media on him and his case as it was all biased, that his solicitor was rubbish, etc. Things that I have heard or read hundreds of times as part of my work on alleged wrongful conviction cases.
I have learned, though, that the truly innocent (and I accept that there are always exceptions to every rule but, generally speaking) tend to be very public about their alleged wrongful convictions and happy for any opportunity to tell their version of events to anyone who will listen so that the truth can come out and their names can be cleared.
Think about high profile victims of wrongful convictions such as Gerry Conlon, Paddy Joe Hill, Mike O’Brien and Paul Blackburn, for instance. All convicted for most serious criminal offences – terrorism, murder and child sexual abuse, respectively. They were truly vilified in the media but were never silent or deterred from putting their side of things whenever an opportunity arose.
By comparison, the man that I met with was convicted of a relatively minor offence in a magistrates’ court and did not go to prison. I mentioned the foregoing victims of wrongful convictions to him and suggested that if he truly was an innocent victim of a wrongful conviction that he might want to go public and give his side of the story and let people make their own minds up what they think and who they want to believe. I asked him if was fighting his conviction. He said he was not.
I can report that I will not be contributing to his project, that he did not act upon my suggestions and that he is still entirely anonymous on Twitter. I am somewhat concerned, however, that those already signed up to his project and others engaging with him on Twitter (mainly young women from what I can tell) have no idea who he is or what he was convicted of and might not (I think would not!) want to be involved with him in any way if they did know who he was.
Go careful in the murky world of Twitter and social media, folks – things and people are not always what they might seem.

The unfortunate silencing of Alex Cavendish
"What obligation does a convicted sex offender have to reveal his true identity? A storm over the issue has arisen in the world of prison blogging.
One of the best criminal justice blogs on the internet is Prison UK. Over the last 3 years it has described the life of prisoners in British prisons with a remarkable and unprecedented vividness. Anyone wanting to know about the realities of prison life should read it. I have even recommended it as preparation for clients expecting to receive a prison sentence: one of the most widely read posts (because it was eventually published in Metro) was about what to pack for somebody who is expecting to go to prison (flip-flops for the showers, earplugs and headphones being top of the list). If you want to know about food in prison, illness in prison, sex in prison, old men in prison, drugs in prison, suicide in prison and death in prison the blog has covered all those subjects superbly.
The writer of the blog called himself Alex Cavendish. On the blog he described himself thus:
“Until 2014 a serving prisoner who had a lot of experience as an Insider, a prisoner who has the job of supporting and advising other prisoners, particularly those who are new to the prison system. He also trained as a peer mentor and worked extensively in prison education departments to help other prisoners improve their literacy skills. He served his sentence in B-cats, C-cats and a D-cat (open prison).”
He was also a prolific tweeter under the name @prisonuk, and was increasingly called upon to comment on prisons in the wider media. One particularly useful thing he has done over the last few months is to document and publicise various prison disturbances and riots that might otherwise have received no, or at least only heavily censored and occasionally misleading official publicity. Assuming, as I do, that he has not just made it all up, the only way he could have done this is by having access to “sources” within the prisons. Presumably these have been either prisoners themselves, prisoners’ families or prison officers.
@prisonuk never revealed what crime it was that got him sent to prison. I have followed him on Twitter and exchanged direct messages with him and I never asked. It seemed to me largely irrelevant. He tweeted and wrote about prison conditions, and mostly, it seemed, blogged from his own experience. If you are going to report on what it is like to serve time in prison then the chances are high that you have quite a few dark secrets. I admit that I was intrigued enough to google his name once or twice: nothing came up about what he was sent to prison for. It occurred to me that he might be writing under a pseudonym.  I suppose, if someone had put me on the spot I would have guessed that his crime was either fraud or sex. As it happened no-one did.
Last week Cavendish was “outed” as a sex offender. His exposer was (on his own description) a prisoner “doing life with a 24 year tariff” with a twitter account called @prison_diaries, also known as “The Lifer.” Cavendish, it turns out, is in fact Mark (although often known as Alex) Standish, who was convicted in 2012 of historic sex offences against a teenage boy. Mr Standish was a teacher at Crookham Court School in the 1980s. The case has an unusual history in that before he was himself convicted, he had informed both the police and and the Department of Education of a culture of child abuse within the school, and had even written a book about it (which I have not read) called Suffer the Little Children. He had also assisted Esther Rantzen who produced a That’s Life expose of the school, and even given evidence for the prosecution at the trial of other teachers who were convicted of abuse.
Many years later, a former pupil called Andy Hudson (he has waived his right to anonymity) complained that Mr Standish had in fact sexually abused him over a period of about a year. There was a trial and Standish was convicted. The judge sentenced him to 4 years in prison. Presumably he was released after serving half his sentence, and was thus able to start his blog in 2014.
Standish attempted to appeal his conviction. In the absence of fresh evidence an appeal against conviction is generally only possible if there has been some legal error at the trial. His argument, as far as I can make it out from press reports, was that it was unfair to prosecute him 20 years after the event. Unsurprisingly that failed. In recent years the Court of Appeal has invariably turned down appeals based on the argument that the mere passage of time has rendered a trial unfair. Despite being described in the press as a “second” appeal, in reality I think that what happened is that he was initially refused leave to appeal on the papers alone by a single judge, and he then exercised his right to argue the point in front of the full court. Far from being a “second” appeal, it may well be that he has not had any appeal at all because he has been refused leave both by a single judge and by the full court.
He now claims that there is in fact fresh evidence and before he left Twitter he announced that he is again intending to appeal against his conviction.
Whether there is anything in this appeal remains to be seen. For the time being he remains a convicted sex offender, and the fact that he concealed his identity while commenting on prison matters has enraged many people.
There is of course an obvious difficulty with an anonymous prisoner, probably a murderer serving a sentence of life imprisonment, taking the moral high ground on an issue like this. Be that as it may, many others – while not necessarily supporting The Lifer’s methods – have been highly critical of what they have described as Standish’s “deception.”
Two of the most critical have also been former prisoners who blog and tweet on penal affairs, Ben Gunn and Penny Mellor. Both are serious voices who deserve attention, both have served time in prison, Gunn for murder (committed when he was a child), Mellor for conspiracy to abduct a child to Ireland. Unlike Standish, and it is very much to their credit, neither has attempted to conceal their identity.
Gunn, who has a well-deserved reputation for blunt and fearless speaking has accused Standish of lying and deceit. He’s not going to like this blog because, as he put it: “The professionals defending the dangerous deceit of @prisonuk is truly vomitous.”
Mellor has gone into more detail on her blog:
In the last 48 hours, a man who represented so many views on prison reform, a trusted voice, feted in certain quarters was ‘outed’ on social media as being a convicted child sex offender. Along with many others I was surprised at this revelation, not that he was a convicted sex offender, but that he had not told anyone what he had been convicted of. It should not matter, however it does, it does for many reasons, some of which are tied up in the complexities of prison politics.
Although Gunn says the problem is not the crime but the deceit, for Mellor the nature of the crime that Standish did not reveal certainly is a problem:
“If you happen to have been convicted of a child sex offence …, you can pretty much guarantee that you are not going to be safe in prison unless you spend all your time in segregation. Even the convicted sex offenders have their pecking order, a rapist being higher up the food chain than the paedophile. The SO who downloads child pornographers being ‘better’ than the child molester etc.
Should you find out that somebody is a convicted child sex offender and you choose to engage with them, you do so at your own peril. Guilty by association. You are literally putting your life at risk. It is considered to be a betrayal of unwritten prison rules if you do befriend a ‘nonce’. However, if you know then at least you can make an informed choice. A choice that was removed on social media because Alex did not tell anyone.
… [A]ny inmate who has been conversing with a ‘nonce’ privately or publicly via social media ran the risk of coming to harm themselves because of those comms. The fact they did not know he was a convicted sex offender is irrelevant in HMP. This is where the betrayal ex con reformists talk about becomes polarised.”
Well I’m sorry, I don’t accept this. It seems to be bringing the dubious ethics of the prison yard into ordinary life. It is presumably because of the unwritten rule that no “decent” murderer or robber should ever associate with a “nonce” that he felt obliged to use a pseudonym in the first place, and that he has now closed his Twitter account. Bad things happen to known sex offenders.
Nor do I accept the deception argument. In what sense is using a pseudonym a “deception”? No-one was deceived into talking to Standish, or if they were they deceived themselves. He never said what his crime was. Anyone who communicated with him – I assume that includes both Gunn and Mellor – and was worried about it, ought to have realised that there was at least a fair chance that he was a sex offender. If he was not a sex offender he could equally well have been a blackmailer or a con-man. Of course, the position would have been different if he had lied about his conviction. As far as I know he never did.
The other point that Mellor makes, what she calls “the crux of the matter” is this:
“Alex claims to have been receiving information from the ‘inside’. This could mean prison officers, governors or inmates with illegal phones. You may all be thinking ‘so what’ – Alex is a convicted sex offender, we have no way of finding out if he also has a SOPO (Sexual Offences Prevention Order) which precludes him from having any contact with minors it may also include other orders relating to whom he is allowed contact with, such as vulnerable people. Alex was in contact with many people, some of whom may well be young people incarcerated in young offenders units, some of whom have anon accounts on Twitter and may well be under 18, some of whom may be on license with a SOPO for sex offence themselves. All of this puts any whistleblowers he was in contact with at risk. Any breach of an order which may or may not be in place allows those in authority to examine his electronics if they believe he is in breach of any conditions that have been placed on him.”
This crux of her argument doesn’t hold up either. As she herself says, “We have no way of finding out ….”
If he is the subject of a sexual offences prevention order, if it prohibits communication with any minors, if he is in contact with them, if they have been using illicit mobile phones, and so on. If he has breached a court order, or a licence condition, then no doubt the authorities will take action but we have no idea whether he has. If he was knowingly communicating by means of illegal phones in prison that would be a serious offence irrespective of the nature of his original crime. It is all a huge pile of speculation.
On his release Standish could have chosen a life of quiet obscurity. Instead he chose to use his prison experience to bring home the scale of the prison crisis to a wider public. Like Ben Gunn and Penny Mellor he was very good at it. If you are going to reform prisons, or even if you just want to know about what goes on inside them, it makes sense to listen to prisoners and ex-prisoners. Most of them will be bad people, or people who have done bad and sometimes terrible things. That is often why they are, or have been, in prison. Prison UK was one of the most articulate ex-prisoners and his silencing is bad news for prison reform.

Campaigner Penny Mellor spared jail for relentless stalking campaign of child abuse victim
« Last Edit: October 09, 2018, 06:58:29 PM by Stephanie »
A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World While the Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes

Offline Nicholas

Re: Those outside prison fighting one another
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2018, 02:24:10 PM »
Those outside prison fighting one another, will only hurt those inside fighting to get out. The present actions of JENGBA are unacceptable to MOJUK and can only damage prisoners and those supporting them!

If you are supporting someone in prison a victim of 'Joint Enterprise' you are now being forced by JENGBA to make a choice. If MOJUK had to make a choice or advise someone inside which organization might best represent the fight against 'Joint Enterprise' cases it would be to seek help from the newly formed National Joint Enterprise Casework Service (NJEC).

MOJUK fully supports the posting below from INNOCENT

To members of INNOCENT

This is a reminder that our next meeting will be on Wednesday, 7 March, starting at 7.00 pm, in the usual venue the Royal Oak pub in Union Street, Oldham OL1 1EN.

Members of INNOCENT have noticed that another meeting has been arranged in Manchester on the same date and at the same time by Gloria Morrison and Janet Cunliffe, who are members of JENGBA (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty By Association). This is the first of a series of meetings arranged to coincide with ours. JENGBA has contacted members of INNOCENT and urged them to attend their meetings rather than ours.

We have asked Gloria and Janet to change the date of their meetings so that INNOCENT members can attend meetings of both organisations if they wish, and do not feel forced into choosing one organisation over another. But they have flatly refused to change their meetings to different dates.

We have been saddened by the discovery that this is a deliberately hostile act. We would like to ignore this childish behaviour and we hope that all INNOCENT members will do so. JENGBA has an excellent record of publicising the terrible and frightening way in which the joint enterprise law is being used to convict innocent people, and we would not wish to prevent members of INNOCENT whose cases involve the use of joint enterprise law from participating in JENGBA's activities. The aims of INNOCENT and the aims of JENGBA are completely compatible.

But although JENGBA offers to help people with their cases, in practice it does not help anyone, and we know of no cases which it has helped to progress in any way. INNOCENT, on the other hand, has a 19 year record of helping with cases, some of which have progressed to successful appeals and the release of innocent prisoners.

Members of INNOCENT know that our meetings are of key importance for our casework. In meetings we exchange information, are brought up to date on cases, clarify the details of what has happened in them, and give support to families. It is essential that members attend meetings if they possibly can. We cannot guarantee to continue supporting cases if the families or supporters concerned stop attending our meetings.

We look forward to seeing you all on 7 March and on subsequent regular meetings of INNOCENT.

Andrew Green

challenging miscarriages of justice since 1993

End of Bulletin

Source for this message:
A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World While the Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes

Offline Nicholas

Re: Those outside prison fighting one another
« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2019, 03:35:05 PM »
I think that document signed by Andrew Green is pathetic.  Talk about trying to have a go at JENGBA and as for accusing them of being deliberately hostile and childish is in itself rather crass.  Green then goes on to glorify INNOCENT as if they were some Godsend organisation.  If the truth be known their success are few and far between in the 19 years they have been operating.

Why am I not surprised that Andrew Green and INNOCENT have joined forces with Billy Middleton's Wrongly Accused Person organisation to form the National Joint Enterprise Casework Service (NJEC).  I fear for true victims of miscarriages of justice as they are being sucked into this vacuum and will ultimately simply become pawns in their pathetic power games.

"Dr Andrew Green was educated at Oxford and Keele and holds a doctorate in criminology from the latter. He became interested in criminal justice following his move to Sheffield in 1989 and in 1993 he founded the organisation INNOCENT. INNOCENT assists people who claim to have been convicted of crimes they did not commit, and their families and supporters, who are its members, and it continues to meet regularly. In 2001 he became a founder of United Against Injustice. In 2012 he was invited by Professor Claire McGourlay to assist with the Innocence Project at the University of Sheffield School of Law. The project has now become the Miscarriages of Justice Review Centre and Andrew holds the post of Lecturer in Clinical Legal Education.

“Andrew Green
May 7 2016 11:13am
I’m Professor Claire McGourlay’s co-director on the Miscarriages of Justice Review Centre at Sheffield University.
I contributed an article to The Justice Gap’s continuing debate on the usefulness of university innocence projects and of the CCRC. I argue that the CCRC’s competence has often come under question, and that many innocence projects are working on cases which have been made more difficult by the CCRC’s own failures to conduct timely and thorough investigations of applicants’ claims.
I argue in favour of mutual respect and more co-operation. My article can be read at
« Last Edit: May 12, 2019, 03:39:42 PM by Nicholas »
A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World While the Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes