A public inquiry to investigate the case of Michael Luvaglio and Dennis Stafford
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After half a century of lies, corruption and cover ups by Durham Constabulary and the judiciary the only way Michael Luvaglio and Dennis Stafford can ever obtain justice is through a truly independent public inquiry.
Anyone independent looking at the evidence that was used at trial to convict the two men for murder alongside the 164 separate witness statements and pieces of evidence withheld and suppressed from the defence at the time will see that this is a grave and most serious miscarriage of justice.
Until now the system hasn't allowed a truly independent review of the case, instead allowing the police and judiciary to close ranks, as we have seen before in cases such as Stephen Lawrence and Hillsborough.
At present, the only way a conviction can be appealed is through an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission who require fresh evidence that has never been before a court before. They then examine this evidence and decide whether it could change the guilty verdict. No 'innocent until proven guilty' here. At the CCRC you are already guilty and have to prove you are innocent. The CCRC will then decide whether to refer the case to the Court of Appeal by second guessing what they might rule if the case is heard. If there is a 'realistic prospect' of overturning the guilty verdict the case will be referred.
Because of this frankly 'not fit for purpose' system less than 1% of applications in 2016/17 were referred to the Court of Appeal.
Michael and Dennis have applied unsuccessfully multiple times.
As recently as spring 2018 Mike Barton, the Chief Constable for Durham Constabulary personally refused Dennis the opportunity to have the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigate his complaint against the police, taking the decision to deal with the complaint himself and continue the practice of closing ranks.
Only an independent public enquiry will allow the true facts of the case to be brought out and examined in detail alongside ALL the available evidence.
Only an independent public enquiry will finally hold the police to account for their actions in relation to these two men.
In 1967 Angus Sibbet was brutally murdered and dumped in the back of his Mark X Jaguar in South Hetton, County Durham.
Police quickly arrested Michael Luvaglio (Angus' best friend) and Dennis Stafford. Both were work colleagues of Sibbet.
Within 3 months the men had been charged, tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
No forensic evidence linked either man to the crime, no motive was presented in court, no weapon found and more than 160 separate pieces of evidence were withheld from the defence team at trial that supported the two accused.
Both men have always maintained their innocence.
The case has gained notoriety not only as an alleged miscarriage of justice, but also as the inspiration behind the film 'Get Carter'.
Extensive investigations recently have shown some fundamental flaws in the police investigation, concerns over the safety of the conviction itself and evidence that the establishment continue to seek to silence the claims of innocence from Luvaglio and Stafford.
An application was put to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in September 2013, containing fresh evidence.
However, following discussions with the Police & Crime Commissioner five months before the application had been lodged, Durham Constabulary 'sealed' the original murder file under the orders of the Chief Constable, refusing to disclose any information through the Freedom of Information Act.
This prevented the men the opportunity to present their best case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
In turn, the CCRC refused to disclose much of the material they used to come to a decision on the application, which was subsequently dismissed.
It is clear that only by forcing a public inquiry into the case can it be looked into with impartiality and fairness and without the continued secrecy that has surrounded the case for more than half a century.
Both men are in their eighties and in poor health. This is their last realistic chance to obtain justice.
Help give Michael and Dennis the chance to have their case re-examined by signing this petition.
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