A6. The application for an inquiry into the conviction

The defence lawyers explained to me that the only way forward, now that all avenues of appeal had been exhausted, was via an application to reopen the case, and initiate an inquiry into the conviction.

They submitted an application which included a lengthy report from me, including, among other material.

  • A statement of my expertise in phonetic science, including my CV listing my internationally recognised research in forensic transcription.
  • Description of the science of phonetics (which is unfamiliar to most lawyers).
  • A statement from me that my analysis suggested the transcript is unreliable throughout, together with detailed phonetic reasons to be sure the transcription of ‘at the start we made a pact’ was inaccurate.
  • Discussion of the results of the experiment showing how seeing the transcript in the context of a case about a murder involving a pact causes listeners to confidently hear the words ‘at the start we made a pact’ even though this transcription is manifestly inaccurate .

Legal principles

The application also included several legal points, though of course I did not see these till later (it is a principle of the law that experts should give their evidence at arms length from advocates). These legal points included the following.

  • A judge is allowed to let a dispute over interpretation of indistinct audio be a matter for the jury but doesn’t have to – citing precedents where judges had excluded indistinct audio and/or a police transcript on the basis of their own hearing. 
  • This judge was deaf.
  • This detective had provided a transcript in another case which had been shown to be inaccurate in a successful appeal against the conviction.
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