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This week in Tortoise: Wrong turn

This week in Tortoise: Wrong turn

On 29 November 2019, John Crilly proved himself to be a hero. With a couple of others, and armed only with a fire extinguisher, he overpowered a terrorist who had just murdered two people as part of a stabbing spree on London Bridge.

Years earlier, Crilly had become a convicted criminal. He’d been in and out of prison for much of his life before getting a minimum 20-year sentence for his part in the murder of a 71-year-old man, Augustine Maduemezia, during a burglary.   

But there’s yet another layer of Crilly’s story to be peeled back: his part in that murder didn’t actually amount to much – if anything. He’d advised his accomplices to leave the house when he realised that someone was inside; it was another of them that punched Maduemezia and caused his death; and Crilly had tried to help the injured man. But he was sent down nonetheless because of what’s known as Joint Enterprise: a legal doctrine by which two or more defendants can be convicted of the same offence, even if only one of them was truly involved.    

For this week’s episode of the Slow Newscast – Wrong Turn – David Taylor exposes the injustice of Joint Enterprise. He does so by speaking to Crilly, as well as to others whose lives have been affected by this legal malpractice and who have campaigned against it. 

The campaign has been successful – to a point. The Supreme Court ruled, in 2016, that the way Joint Enterprise had been applied was flawed, casting doubt on hundreds of convictions across three decades. That’s how Crilly got out and why he was there, thankfully, to intervene during the London Bridge attack. 

But he’s still the only person to have successfully overturned his conviction after that Supreme Court ruling. The wider injustice remains. Please do listen and share.

As for the rest of this week, we’ve got a full programme of ThinkIns:

  • This evening, we focus on the outgoing German chancellor, Angela Merkel (who was also the subject of a recent Slow View by John Kampfner). We’ll be joined by the author of her authorised biography, the former prime minister of Finland, the former British ambassador to Germany, and other guest experts, to examine not just Merkel’s 16 years in power but also what comes next.
  • Tomorrow afternoon, at 1pm BST, a conversation with Katherine Ainley, the CEO of telecommunications giant Ericsson in the UK and Ireland – who started her role midway through the pandemic.
  • On Wednesday, another conversation, this time with the tech guru Azeem Azhar. Azeem’s newsletter, Exponential View, and now his book, The Exponential View, are some of our best guides to the era of AI. We’ll be asking him: will technology widen the power gap?
  • And on Thursday, we look back at New Labour – did it work? Helping us answer the question will be a minister from the time, Alan Johnson, one of its finest chroniclers, Andrew Rawnsley, as well as other guests.

Don’t forget that, even if you can’t attend, you can still watch video of past ThinkIns through the Tortoise website and app. Last Tuesday’s, for instance, on Prince Charles’s charity scandal is there in its entirety – as are hundreds more. 

Finally, it’s an important week for the cause of vaccinations around the world – and therefore for our #TheArmsRace campaign. Joe Biden’s global Covid summit will take place on Wednesday, and his administration is expected to announce the donation of 500 million Pfizer doses to other countries. It’s a start, but, as we’ve been consistently saying, it’s only a start. We’ll be updating our Vaccine Tracker, as well as reporting on the summit and its promises, to show just how much more is needed…


James Harding
Editor & co-founder