This is the first empirical research to examine the role of innocence projects across the UK.
An innocence project is most commonly a university clinic where students investigate cases of alleged miscarriages of justice. Michael Naughton is generally considered the founder of the UK innocence movement: he established the Innocence Network UK (INUK) in 2004 and set up the University of Bristol innocence project in 2005. Following this, innocence projects spread rapidly across the UK, with INUK assisting the establishment of 36 innocence projects during its operation (2004-2014), and with two further projects existing independently. Despite this, the literature on innocence projects was only from a few authors, and there was little known about how projects were operating in practice across the UK. The research sought to examine this through semi-structured interviews with past and present innocence project leaders which explored their aims and objectives; their approach to investigation and casework; the problems and challenges they faced; and their views on the future for miscarriage of justice work in the UK. The innocence movement in the UK has been plagued by difficulties. Despite the large number of innocence projects, only three cases have ever reached the Court of Appeal and only one has ever been overturned. Furthermore, in the autumn of 2014, INUK ceased its role as a membership organisation for innocence projects meaning there was no longer a UK based network of projects. It is hoped this research will provide an important insight into the UK innocence movement, which has been of significant contribution to the miscarriage of justice field and to the development of clinical legal education.