Leader comment: Justice delayed is justice denied

Claire Blackman, the wife of imprisoned marine Alexander Blackman, speaks to the media with a lawyer after his bail was refused during a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice. Picture: Getty Images
Claire Blackman, the wife of imprisoned marine Alexander Blackman, speaks to the media with a lawyer after his bail was refused during a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice. Picture: Getty Images
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It is going to be a quiet and subdued, sadder Christmas in Claire Blackman’s home. There had been high hopes that her husband Alexander, a former Sergeant in the Royal Marines convicted of murdering a Taleban insurgent on an Afghanistan battlefield, would be allowed out on bail until a fresh appeal into his conviction and sentence is heard next year.

But in a baffling decision from Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Sweeney, bail was refused. This is despite there being no objection from the prosecution.

Blackman was given bail prior to his trial, and even allowed to handle weapons while on bail. Since then he has been a model prisoner and the court was told that there was a risk that he might have to serve longer in prison than the court orders on the appeal. He also has the backing of a large and impressive group of supporters.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the independent body that investigates possible miscarriages of justice, has decided to refer Blackman’s conviction and sentence to the court for review, they did so after an 11-month “in-depth” investigation.

It announced it had concluded that a number of new issues, including fresh evidence relating to Blackman’s mental state, “raise a real possibility” that the Court Martial Appeal Court “will now quash Mr Blackman’s murder conviction”.

Surely, given those circumstances and the difficulties surrounding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the interests of society would be better served by doing the more humane thing and allowing him home, and is justice not supposed to serve society?