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The story of a campaign for justice 2011-2017

October 15, 2017 8:51 PM
By Greg Mulholland

Finally, today, much later than first suggested, but at last, the Ministry of Justice have announced the outcome of their consultation into the sentencing for serious criminal driving.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/life-sentences-for-killer-drivers

This is great news for and a huge achievement by all the brave people and families who were denied justice when losing loved ones, yet decided to campaign for change so that other families would not suffer the distress of seeing appallingly and criminally reckless drivers who kill given patently inadequate punishment, that bore no relation to the devastating impact of their crime.

The consultation was announced after vigorous campaigning and lobbying following the tragic and unnecessary deaths of people up and down the country and the wholly inadequate and sometimes grossly inappropriate sentences for those who had killed them, through seriously and criminally reckless driving.

I took up this issue because two constituent families suffered the devastation of the sudden and violent loss of their loved ones. In two shocking cases, communities in Otley and Cookridge were shocked at the loss of 16 year old Jamie Still on New Year's Eve 2010 and David and Dorothy Metcalf on New Year's Day in 2012. It's impossible to imagine the devastation for their families starting a new year in such a harrowing fashion.

I met with, listened to and wept with the families I'll never forget sitting with Jamie's mum, Karen and younger sister Rebecca at their home. Rebecca began the Jamie Still Campaign and started a petition, showing astonishing courage having lost her beloved big brother.

http://www.jamiestillcampaign.co.uk/

I also then met with Clive Metcalf, a former policeman, who I knew from Old Mods Club and his sister Lindsay and their families. I then attended the trial of their parents' killer, which was inevitably harrowing, for them surely unbearable. I also met Jamie's grandfather Peter and Jamie's Dad.

So I started campaigning for changes to the justice system that were clearly needed from the reality of what happened in these and other cases. This developed into my leading the campaign in Parliament for better justice for victims of criminal driving and their families.

Karen, Rebecca, Peter & I met with Justice Minister Crispin Blunt back in 2012 to lay out the need for reform.

http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/9665505.Victim___s_family_to_meet_with_minister/

Then in 2013 I joined Rebecca, with Karen and Peter, to hand in to Number 10 Downing Street in the amazing 13,000 signatures Rebecca had collected on her petition.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/teenager-collects-13000-name-petition-change-2060272

From then my office & I coordinated the campaign, working with other families who had lost loved ones and their MPs. I organised and chaired a remarkably powerful and very emotional round table for victims' families in 2014, attended by Karen, Peter, Rebecca, Clive and Lindsay - and so many other brave families from all over the country. The testimonies were heartbreaking. Many of us there shed a few years. The stories of the failure of the justice system were all too similar in so many cases. The lack of any appropriate recognition in the system of the severity of these crimes and their devastating impact on the lives of many was all too clear.

From that my office and I wrote a manifesto for change, which we then launched in Parliament and sent to the Secretary of State in 2015. This was backed by MPs who were also supporting and working with their affected families.

https://gregmulholland.org/en/article/2015/1039831/mulholland-leads-parliamentary-launch-of-criminal-driving-manifesto

I then presented the content of this in a Ten Minute Rule Bill https://gregmulholland.org/en/article/2016/1139044/greg-mulholland-presents-bill-demanding-tougher-criminal-driving-laws

Over the years I also secured debates & raised this issue regularly at justice questions, transport questions and also Prime Minister's Questions.

https://gregmulholland.org/en/page/justice-for-victims-of-criminal-driving

I worked closely with Brake who then developed their own superb Roads to Justice campaign.

http://www.brake.org.uk/top-level/18-campaigns/1581-roads-to-justice

It was great to work with them so collaboratively and there were many good people there, who worked on this, but I was especially pleased to work with Gary Rae and Alice Bailey who did a great job. Whilst you don't do these things for personal recognition, it was nice to be named Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Year Award twice, in 2012 & 2016 and those awards will be something I will treasure. I also want to pay tribute to Mo Saqib in my office, who took on the role of administering and coordinating much of the campaign and did so superbly and with real passion, wanting and believing in the better justice that we were fighting for.

Of course I am disappointed that I can't be in the House of Commons to welcome the fruits of nearly seven years of campaigning, but I'm just glad that finally we have some very significant changes that will hopefully mean that other families will not be denied justice in the future and of course best of all that now there will be far fewer people who kill through criminally reckless and disgraceful driving. I pay tribute to the courage of the families of Jamie Still, David & Dorothy Metcalf & all the brave families many of whom I have met and been honoured to do so. I also thank all the MPs who worked with me on what became such a strong cross party campaign in the House of Commons.

So with these changes, the clear message is that our country and society better acknowledges the seriousness of this type of crime and its devastating consequences. It is very satisfying that six and a half years of campaigning with families locally and nationally has worked. I may no longer be an MP or able to carry on that work, but I am proud of what I achieved. It's why I went into politics. Today's victory is for Jamie, for David and Dorothy and for all the fine people who were unnecessarily and cruelly taken from this world and for their amazing families. God bless them.