CAMPAIGNERS for “Justice for Jane” are a step closer in changing current law which could see the victims of crime holding greater powers from as early as March.
Family and friends of murdered Barrowford nurse Jane Clough were in Parliament on Tuesday in a bid to get the Bail Act changed in favour of allowing the prosecution the right of appeal against defenders who have been granted bail.
Following discussions, the Government accepted “in principle” the need to change the law.
Jane’s parents, John and Penny, of Higherford, believe if Jane (25) had had a right of appeal against the judge’s decision to grant her murderer Jonathan Vass bail, she would still be alive.
While on bail following a string of charges of rape against her, Vass brutally stabbed his ex-partner and mother of his child to death in July last year.
In June, the Bail (Amendment) Bill was put forward by Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson who, with John and Penny, have been tirelessly rallying to drum up support for the change.
And, over past months, it has been met with unanimous support across all political parties and Victims’ Commissioner Louise Casey, who has backed the proposals.
Mr Stephenson said: “This change in the law would be a significant step forward for victims and I am delighted it could become law as early as March.
“We can’t claim victory yet, but today represents a huge step forward for the Justice for Jane campaign and everyone should be proud of what they have achieved.”
John said: “We are very positive and even though there were a few technicalities it means at last the high level politicians are listening and for us it’s definite progress.
“We hope victims will see it as helping to even up their rights. If we only stop one or two or however many ‘Janes’ going through what Jane went through, it will be a real bonus. We still can’t let the pressure off and need to keep it up.”
Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice Crispin Blunt MP, speaking during the Committee stage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, paid tribute to John and Penny in the public gallery.
He said the Government would like to include the change in law as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill currently before Parliament but needed to agree the details of how it would work in practice.
The amendment is now being re-worded to boost its chances.
A petition set up in support of Justice for Jane has more than 11,000 signatures and John is urging people to sign.
“We desperately need support for the petition to give us that extra leverage on government. If we could get towards the 100,000 figure it would really help. If each person could get one page of signatures it would be fantastic.”
Please take a moment to sign the petition or download a printable version that allows for 30 signatures at www.petitiononline.co.uk/petition/justice-for-jane-clough/3123
John and Penny are meeting the director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer, Ian Rushton and Lousie Casey on Thursday to discuss the issue of allowing charges to lay on file and the failings of the CPS in relation to Jane’s case.