23/3 Bristol

Project Innocence (briefing at Bristol University)

A special briefing for us at Bristol University, on the TP Law UK Study Trip 2011, by Gabe Tan and Michael Naughton of Project Innocence.
The Innocence Network UK (INUK) undertakes casework, research and communications in the area of wrongful convictions - http://www.innocencenetwork.org.uk/.
INUK's overall aim is to improve the criminal justice system by overturning and preventing the wrongful conviction of the innocent.

INUK undertakes investigations into alleged wrongful convictions through the innocence project that it established at the University of Bristol, which is the first innocence project in the UK.
Additionally, INUK has to date actively assisted in setting up over 30 innocence projects in other universities in England, Scotland and Wales. It provides a casework referral service to member innocence projects that agree to work to the INUK Protocols, linking them with eligible applicants to undertake independent, objective investigations.
Please note: All INUK innocence project investigations are conducted on a pro bono (free for public good) basis.

On this date, we visited University of Bristol.


We met Mr John Westwood, the director of ILEX, to hear him talk about the development programme for paralegals in UK. He was telling us about how the UK law degrees work, such as we do not have to take law degree to become a lawyer, but simply do a one year conversion after a basic degree. He also spoke about the changes in how UK looks at UK. Law in itself is evolving as the UK government recently passed a law (which would come into effect in October 2011) which allows big businesses to provide legal services. For example, one would be able to get a divorce at Tesco Supermarket instead of at a law firm.

Innocence Project

Our second speakers, Gabe Tan and Michael Naughton, spoke to us about the “Innocence Project”. Basically, this project is a programme which helps wrongly convicted people to overturn the case to allow appeals and/or re-trials. One case would be a man who was convicted for murder and was sentenced to xxx years. He is eligible for parole but refused as he did not want to plead guilty and get mistaken by his children as the murderer of their mother.

For more information, please refer to the link below



After that, we went for a school tour around the campus and the off-site accommodations. Check out our very awesome pictures below!


We then proceeded to Bath, a very picturesque place. It was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1987. We found out from the very knowledgeable guide that the name “Bath” came about from the fact that the Romans built a giant bath during their occupation of Britain. Due to time constraints, we were unable to visit the Bath due to the long queues and the fact that we couldn’t find a toilet. We were thus late to get onto the bus and faced a massive jam.


We had a long trip (100 miles!) along the M1 motorway (the ‘expressway’ in UK!) to Leicester; however we were late for a dinner engagement with some students from the University of Leicester. Hence the male students had to carry all the luggage to the rooms in the Travelodge while the female students met the university students first.

At the Chinese restaurant, we engaged in lively conversations with our host, who happened to be a graduate from TP Law, learning about the living conditions and other necessary information about Leicester. To top off the night, Hansel gave us a mind-blowing performance by taking the stage and serenading us with amazing rendition of “God Blessed the Open Roads” by Rascal Flatts. Suffice to say, everyone enjoyed themselves…in different ways. ;)

After the meal and excellent dinner entertainment, we walked over to the nearby Tesco and bought ourselves our daily necessities like water. We ended the night by returning to the Travel Lodge happy and fulfilled.

Reported by Bruce, Sandra, Sarah, Shahirah, Jasmine, Izyan and Damian.

Day Two – Bristol by Elizabeth Tang

University of Bristol

We headed to University of Bristol where the architecture of the University was nothing like what we have in Singapore. It practically looked like a castle on the outside and was equally breath taking of the interior. Intricate details on high ceilings and stained glass windows formed majority of the school's interior. I remember that one of the common rooms for the students have a fireplace to warm the room in the cold weather. That's something you will never see in Singapore schools!
Of course, the highlight of this day was when we learnt more about the Innocence Project where Dr. Michael Naughton and Gabe Tan ( Yes, a fellow Singaporean who got her Law Degree at University of Bristol. ) The Innocence Project helps alleged wrongful convicts who stand by their conscience that they are innocent and the Innocence Project helps them to find evidence to overturn the cases and return them their freedom. Gabe Tan also shared with us her passion towards Innocence Project and a couple of the successful cases they had.

After that, we took a tour of the University of Bristol and we also went to see the accomodations that University of Bristol has for their students.

Next, we moved on to Bath where we were allowed time to grab lunch and have a little look around Bath. Unfortunately, we only had an hour or so to look around and some of us only managed to locate the souvenirs shop when there was only 15 minutes left. Well, you can imagine the rush and the long queue at the cashier!

Due to us leaving Bath late, we met with the rush hour and traffic jam towards Leicester. The journey took about 3 hours and it was the longest coach ride in our entire trip in UK. Because we were supposed to meet some seniors in Leicester for dinner and we were already late, the macho guys in the group kindly helped to carry the luggages up to their rooms first while the girls hurried to meet with the seniors who were hosting us for the dinner.

If you are wondering if we had sandwiches for dinner, then you are wrong! We finally had RICE for a meal and were we glad to see the familiar staple food we take for granted back in Singapore. The air was filled with chatter and the occasional Singlish. It really felt as if we were in UK for a long period of time and these fellow Singaporeans that we were meeting for the first time felt like family. I think most of us appreciated the Cantonese cuisine dinner that the seniors specially planned for us and we were really grateful to them as they shared their experiences and thoughts with us.
Time past quickly and we had to leave, but not before some good old karaoke which Hansel entertained us with.

As usual, the night ended with a quick trip to Tesco's (which became our most frequented place we went in the UK for our daily supply of water or other basic necessities) and we bid farewell to the wonderful seniors who, at that night felt just like our family in a foreign land.

Day Two – Bristol by Elizabeth Tang