Married judges sit together at Supreme Court for first time

Lord Mance hands down controversial verdict sitting next to wife Lady Arden

Friday, 1st February 2019 — By Tom Foot

Sam Hallam IMG_1098

Miscarriage of justice victim Sam Hallam’s appeal was dismissed

LOVE and despair was in the air at the Supreme Court on Wednesday when two married judges sat on the bench together for the first time.

Jonathan, Lord Mance, handed down a controversial judgment dismissing an appeal from miscarriage of justice victims Sam Hallam and Victor Nealon.

Lord Mance, recently retired but back in court to conclude his final case, sat next to Mary, Lady Arden. The couple married in 1973 and they have three children. A beaming Mar- jorie, Baroness Hale – president of the Supreme Court – said it was a “historic day for this court” as the appellants waited nervously for the verdict.

The announcement raised expectations that a historic judgment was about to swing their way – but their hopes were dashed by Lord Mance.

Lady Hale said: “This is a historic day for this court. Last year we were delighted to welcome Lady Arden as a justice of this court. And today her husband Lord Mance is about to deliver a judg- ment. This is the first time in this court that we had had a husband and wife team sitting on the bench. But, of course, we do that without in any way dimin- ishing our normal practice that husbands and wives should not sit on the same case. No doubt Lady Arden will be just as interested as the rest of us to find out what the answer in Hallam is.”

Mr Hallam and Mr Nealon spent a combined 24 years in prison after being found guilty of, respectively, murder and rape. Their convictions were quashed in the court of appeal but despite serving  lengthy sentences they are ineligible for compensation. Changes to legislation brought in by Theresa May, when she was home secretary in 2012, mean that miscarriage of justice victims must be able to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” they are innocent.

Lord Mance said that in their case a conviction had been found to be “merely unsafe” and that did not

amount to them being innocent of the crime. Mr Hallam and Mr Nealon’s legal team had argued this conflicts with the basic human right that everyone is “presumed innocent” unless found guilty in a court of law.

Mr Hallam, 31, was wrongly jailed for murder of a trainee chef in Old Street until his conviction was quashed after seven- and-a-half years in prison. Outside the court he said he was “very disappoint- ed” with the judgment, adding: “In 2019 I am still having to fight to prove my innocence. My lawyers will look at an appeal or what I can do next. This terrible law needs to be changed.”

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