On Friday, Greater Manchester Police presented its review of the case of Danny Major, jailed after being found guilty of assaulting a drunken teenager in custody, to West Yorkshire police commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson.
Mr Burns-Williamson has now told the parents of Mr Major that the 500-page report showed “there may have been a miscarriage of justice” and that “fresh evidence” meant it could be referred back to the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC).
Mr Major, from Wakefield, was jailed for 15 months after being found guilty of assaulting Sean Rimmington, then 18, who he had just arrested at Millgarth police station in Leeds.
A jury failed to reach a verdict in April 2006, but Mr Major was convicted at a retrial the same year. He served four months of his 15-month sentence.
The judge at Bradford Crown Court was highly critical of the force during his trial, calling the station where the incident occurred “not fit for purpose” and the custody set-up a “shambles”.
He said Rimmington had effectively become a “non-person” for about 40 minutes because no proper custody records had been kept for that time.
Mr Major’s family have been campaigning to have his conviction overturned since he was released from jail in 2007. Challenges at the Court of Appeal and with the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) were unsuccessful.
Any new decision to overturn the original conviction would be made by the Court of Appeal after being referred by the CCRC.
The Greater Manchester Police (GMP) review, dubbed Operation Lamp, was commissioned by Mr Burns-Williamson in 2013 and looked into an “alleged conspiracy to pervert the course of justice”
Responding to Friday’s announcement, Mr Major’s parents, Eric and Bernadette, said in a statement: “The Major family are pleased to receive confirmation that the Operation Lamp investigation outcome has been passed to West Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner.
“Of course, we are anxious to see the investigation report but we realise that there are processes to follow. Our focus at present is to ensure the Criminal Case Review Commission acts on the report’s findings and refers the matter back to the Court of Appeal promptly.
“In the mean time the family are grateful to DCI Julian Flindle and his GMP team of detectives for the open-minded way in which the investigation has been carried out.
“The Majors have at all times been treated with dignity, courtesy and respect by Greater Manchester Police.
“Our family are also grateful for the support of Inspector Ian Hanson [chairman of Greater Manchester’s Police Federation] in agreeing to personally represent Danny in all future dealings with West Yorkshire Police and the PCC.”
In Mr Burns-Williamson’s statement on Friday, he said: “The family and I both want to know if justice was correctly served. They have been kept informed at all times about the progress of the review.
“I know they are frustrated at the length of time it has taken to compile this report but it was vital that the investigating team left no stone un-turned.
“Having received the report today I must now spend some time to review it in full and consider all the findings, recommendations and next steps. I have spoken to the family today to give them a very brief overview and we will be meeting shortly so we can discuss what happens now.
“What the report does say is that, in the opinion of the investigating team, the evidence supports the premise that there may have been a miscarriage of justice and that there is sufficient ‘fresh evidence’ to support the case being referred back to the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC).
“This is obviously an important development in this long running case which has previously been looked into by a number of agencies. It is important that no one now rushes to judgement and that any legal proceedings resulting from this be allowed to run their course.
“I will of course share all relevant information with all interested parties including the Major family.”