The Death of Justice

Welsh Books Council

The Death of Justice - 03 September 2008

The Death of Justice

"I am not admitting to something I did not do" Michael O’Brien

It is a modern day tale of David and Goliath; of one man’s quest to clear his name taking his fight to the highest courts in the land and creating legal history.

In his own words Michael O’Brien tells his moving story of how he was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit - the Cardiff Newsagent Murder during the 1980s. The book reveals the trauma and heartache he suffered whilst in prison and how he learnt to cope.  During the eleven years he not only the lost his freedom and youth but also members of his family including the tragic death of his daughter and step-father.

Death of Justice  uncovers the shocking story of how police incompetence and scapegoating result in three innocent men being convicted and the catalogue of mistreatment during their time in prison. It is also details how Michael O’Brien taught himself law and successfully took two Home Secretaries Michael Howard and Jack Straw to court, a governor from HMP Longlartin, how he won his appeal and eventual release and the largest payout in legal history.

Gareth Pierce, a leading human rights lawyer writes in her thought- provoking forward:

"A total death of justice. For the victim, what does that mean, what does it feel like hour by hour, day by day?  None of us know who have not had it happen to us.  Is it like being buried alive, conscripted into a regime?  Is it to fell, day by day, that you are a dead man walking? An how does that fit. How does any human being deal with finding himself alive, but dead to the world, where he is intended to remain possibly for the rest of his life?"

Michael O’Brien now lives in Cardiff with his partner and family and continues to support people who face similar legal battles.

An exclusive programme on the Michael O’Brien story was broadcast on the current affairs programme Wales This Week, 8pm, 1st September 2008. 

Key dates

9th July 1999  Michael O ‘Brien made legal history by winning a case to allow  inmates access to journalists following a legal battle with two Home Secretaries, Michael Howard and Jack Straw and the Prison Governor of HMP Long Lartin

17th December 1999 the Cardiff Three had their name cleared by the Court of Appeal.  The case again made legal history in relation to expert evidence on confessions, now referred to as the O’Brien test.

Michael O’Brien took the Home Office compensation assessor Lord Brennan to the Court of Appeal forcing a break down of the compensation awards in 2003.

In 2006 Michael O’Brien was awared the largest payout in British legal history from a police force for mailicious prosecution.

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