Andrew Mitchell, along with other senior Conservative MPs, has urged the Government to conduct an urgent review of the controversial joint enterprise laws.
The legal principle of joint enterprise means that an individual can be convicted of murder even if they had not inflicted the fatal blow. Established in the 1980s, it was an easy route for prosecutors to convict multiple suspects for a single crime – most of whom were suspected of being gang members.
However, when ‘joint enterprise’ was used in cases of murder – it set the threshold for culpability so dangerously low that the prosecutor was simply required to prove that the defendant could have ‘foreseen’ that a murder or violent act was likely to take place - even if they did not intend to assist or encourage the murder at all.
In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that judges had misinterpreting the law for 30 years. Yet despite this, a series of appeals that have been brought under the new legal interpretation have not resulted in any verdicts being overturned.
Mr Mitchell said: “Thousands of people are estimated to have been prosecuted under joint enterprise over the last decade alone, with a wealth of evidence suggesting that it disproportionately affects those who identify as black, Asian and minority ethnic.
“It is startling that our courts are so keen to block appeals by those who may have been convicted by error of the courts.”