Jordan Cunliffe case to drive new drama

Writer Jimmy McGovern
Writer Jimmy McGovern

A BAFTA winning screen writer is using the case of a convicted Wigan murderer as the basis for a new drama.

Jimmy McGovern, perhaps best know for his work on Brookside and Cracker, is drawing inspiration from the conviction of Jordan Cunliffe for the murder of dad-of-three Gary Newlove back in August 2007.

He is a patron of an organisation which is campaigning to have the law that convicted him - joint enterprise - changed.

Joint enterprise means a person can be convicted of a crime by being part of a group who embark on a criminal enterprise even if they do not commit the actual act.

JENGbA - Joint Enterprise Not Guilty By Association - was set up by the families of people who believe their loved ones should never have been convicted for the crimes they are currently in prison for.

“There are young men inside who should not be inside and are because of this law, joint enterprise,” McGovern told BBC Radio Merseyside.

“The biggest case is Jordan Cunliffe.

“I know a lot about that case and that boy is innocent.”

McGovern also revealed he is currently penning a drama about joint enterprise which explores the use of the law.

He added: “To put people inside for things they haven’t done is no justice for the victims or for society.”

Mr Newlove was beaten to death outside his Warrington home after remonstrating with a gang he believed had damaged his car.

Cunliffe was convicted of his murder along with Adam Swellings and Stephen Sorton, and like his co-defendants sentenced to life imprisonment following a trial at Chester Crown Court.

Cunliffe was told he would serve a minimum of 12 years.

Swellings pleaded guilty to manslaughter but his plea was rejected by the prosecution and he was subsequently found guilty of murder, while Sorton landed the blow that killed 47-year-old Mr Newlove.

Janet Cunliffe, originally from Pemberton, says her son, 16, at the time took no part in the actual attack, and did not see what happened because he has keratoconus, a degenerative eye condition that means his vision is severely blurred.

She said: “I have spoken to Jimmy at length and he knows all about his case and is eager to tell Jordan’s story in his next drama.

“Our campaign for justice is continuing and to have someone like Jimmy McGovern speaking out on his behalf is a great tonic.”