Mum takes crusade to Commons

Janet Cunliffe

Janet Cunliffe

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A CAMPAIGNING Wigan mum whose teenaged son was jailed for a notorious murder is due to be quizzed by MPs in Parliament.

Janet Cunliffe will testify before the Commons justice select committee tomorrow (Wednesday) as she continues her crusade to get the legal notion of joint enterprise scrapped.

The Pemberton-born mother feels son Jordan is a victim of injustice, his having been given a life sentence for his part in the brutal killing of Warrington dad Garry Newlove in 2007 despite there being little evidence that the then 16-year-old had played any physical part in the attack.

He was sentenced along with several friends because he was part of the group that killed Mr Newlove and because he did nothing to prevent the crime.

Mrs Cunliffe says this was manifestly unfair not only because the onslaught was over in a matter of seconds and so there was little or no time to thwart it and also because her son is partially-sighted.

A recent online poll held by the Wigan Evening Post showed overwhelmingly that the local public do think Jordan Cunliffe should have been locked up.

But his mother’s arguments, voiced through the group Joint Enterprise: Not Guilty By Association (Jengba) that she helped to found, have been gaining key support of late.

The very fact that her views and those of fellow supporters are to be heard in the Palace of Westminster along with those against reform is seen by Jengba as a major step forward.

And it comes only months after a drama from Jimmy McGovern, which drew heavily on what he perceives as injustice cases like Jordan Cunliffe’s, was screened on the BBC and followed up by several television debates.

Mrs Cunliffe said; “The screening of our Patron, Jimmy McGovern’s film Common put joint enterprise firmly in the public arena.

“As a result of the massive media attention, we have been contacted by yet more families whose loved ones have been convicted or charged under joint enterprise. We are now supporting over 500 prisoners but believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The Justice Select Committee is re-visiting joint enterprise in their follow-up inquiry today and Jengba have been called to give oral evidence. We have also provided a written submission which will be published on the parliament website.

“Jengba has a unique perspective of how this doctrine is being abused in our courts. We have inside campaigners who are maintaining their innocence, having been sentenced to life for crimes committed by others. We have attended court hearings and witnessed for ourselves how innocent people can be caught up in the law. The families we support tell us they have nowhere else to turn.”