Staffordshire’s police and crime commissioner has been accused of promoting his own brand of law which ignores the presumption of innocence.
Criminal defence lawyer Nick Freeman has said Matthew Ellis’s “Ellis Law”, insinuated those charged with a criminal offence were guilty come what may.
Mr Freeman was responding to a recent anti-drink drive campaign by a number of police forces – including Staffordshire – who were publishing the names of those charged with either a drink or drug driving offence on Twitter.
When challenged that is was trial by social media, Mr Ellis – a former Lichfield county councilor who was elected to the £75,000 a year post in November 2012 – said “no-one will be named where there is any doubt”.
He added that whilst he thought it was unwise to name someone on arrest, it was acceptable to name on charge, as the “bar for charging someone is significantly higher”.
Mr Freeman said: “What Mr Ellis has stated on more than one occasion demolishes the bedrock of English law, namely the presumption of innocence.
“He is attempting to create Ellis Law which totally undermines the criminal justice system. With Ellis Law you are guilty as charged until you are proven innocent.
“In our legal system a police officer is not the arbiter of whether someone is innocent or guilty. That role is the preserve of the jury or magistrates.
“Mr Ellis seems to be uncomfortable with defence lawyers and doesn’t understand the judicial process.
“It’s not a question of morals, it’s a question of ensuring the legal process has been adhered to and ensuring a defendant receives a fair and proper trial.
“Mr Ellis seems to be digging a hole for himself and I suggest he doesn’t stop until he unearths his own resignation letter.”
Mr Freeman added: “I believe more effective anti-drink measures include increasing mobile police patrols, reducing the current drink-drive limit and, most importantly, changing the law so the police have the legal power to breathalyse at ransom.
“I also fully back naming and shaming offenders but only after conviction.”
For Further Information, please contact:
Nick Freeman, 0161 236 7007/ 07778 159 882
David Simister, Different PR, on 0845 389 26 26 / 07870 550 760