Post Office scandal among miscarriages of justice explored by podcast series
Broadcaster Kylie Pentelow has teamed up with the University's Manchester Innocence Project to host their second series of true crime podcasts which aim to raise awareness about miscarriages of justice in the UK, including the recent Post Office scandal.
In the new series, Kylie will hear from people whose lives fell apart after being convicted of crimes they did not commit, and who had to fight to prove their innocence. She will find out what life is like after prison for people cleared of wrongdoing, and speak to individuals who are involved in the innocence movement.
The first episode features Tom Hedges, who was caught up in what has been described as the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history - he was one of the Post Office managers who were given criminal convictions when faulty accounting software made it look as though money was going missing from their branches. Kylie speaks to Tom about how his once quiet life turned into a nightmare, and how he and hundreds of other post officer workers fought to clear their names.
The second episode features Kristine Bunch, who was wrongly sent to prison for 17 years for arson and the murder of her three-year-old son. Pregnant when she was convicted, she describes how horrendous it was saying goodbye to her baby just hours after he was born, making the most of life in prison, and her relentless fight for innocence.
The third episode features Luis Vargas, who was in prison for 16 years for crimes he didn’t commit including rape and kidnap. His life fell apart, his wife divorced him, and he thought he had no hope of freedom – but with the help of the California Innocence Project, he eventually proved his innocence. He hid the fact that he was in prison for rape from the other inmates because he knew he’d be beaten or killed if they found out.
The Manchester Innocence Project, which was founded in 2020, is one of only a few university-led organisations in the UK that fights for people who say they have been wrongfully convicted. It is a pro bono initiative, launched by Professor Claire McGourlay at The University of Manchester, and led solely by staff and students.
The project gives students the opportunity to gain a practical insight into the legal system, as well as the unique issues affecting those who suffer a miscarriage of justice.
Once again I’ve been staggered by the amazing stories that we’ve been told as part of this series - from a women who was wrongly sent to prison when she was pregnant, to a postmaster who had to deliver newspapers that had his own picture on for a crime he didn’t commit.
"This series continues to highlight the global plight and inequalities in criminal justice systems, and it has been an honour to work with everyone involved,” said Professor Claire McGourlay. “Our students and staff at Manchester work so hard to fight for the innocent."
To listen to the Innocence Podcast, visit www.innocence.fm.