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If the Court of Appeal consider that they cannot interpret 'at any time' in section 11 to allow a posthumous appeal to the Crown Court on a CCRC reference (in view of the express procedural provision in section 7 for such appeals to the Court of Appeal, whereas there is none in respect of appeals to the Crown Court), the Government should commit to amending the law by adding the necessary clause to the Criminal Justice Bill (currently before Parliament) and Sir Wyn Willliams (as chairman of the Horizon Inquiry) should issue an urgent statement supporting such an amendment.

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If I may say so, Robert Zara was for many years a much respected and admired (solicitor) District Judge based primarily in Birmingham, Solihull and other West Midlands Magistrates’ Courts. Brisk though unfailingly courteous, he was penetrating in his challenges to those who TRIED to make the system work ,of course for the client but also in the interests of the rule of law and due process. He made us WORK - and all the better for us AND the course of justice.

As to the issue at hand, I am once again indebted to Joshua who has reminded me with his habitual clarity of what the 1995 Act does and DOES NOT say.

Might this indeed be an opportunity for the Courts to interpret and clarify its relevant provisions imaginatively? I wonder, without references, quite what the preamble and Parliamentary debates might add to a clarification of the intention of Parliament? Robert would quite likely be vexed with me for having failed to research those aspects myself- but there you are.

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Joshua, it is an over-simplification to say that an appeal against conviction in a magistrates’ court following a guilty plea can only happen when there is a reference from the Commission. Blackstone lists four other categories of case where this may be possible, including equivocal pleas and cases where pleas were entered under duress.

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