The pardoning of Michael Shields by the Justice secretary, Jack Straw creates an extremely dangerous precedent.
Shields was convicted in Bulgaria of the attempted murder of a barman and sentenced to 10 years in custody. He exhausted his legal remedies in Bulgaria, his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights was dismissed, and in 2006, presumably under a prisoner transfer arrangement, he was returned to serve the remainder of his sentence in the UK.
The basis of Shields' defence was that he was not responsible for the injury. Indeed, one Graham Sankey confessed to the offence, though significantly did not give this evidence under oath before the Bulgarian courts. It has never been tested.
The basis of Straw's decision to pardon appears to be based on another "confession". I don't suppose we'll ever know more about the bizarre circ umstances if this, but according to the report
"I [Straw] was told that in the course of the visit that man made an oral confession to the crime in front of several other people.
And that enabled the Justice Secretary to conclude that Shields was
"morally and technically innocent"
Such an untested hearsay confession, would never be acceptable in any English court.
Just imagine the rumpus if a Bulgarian citizen having been charged and convicted of a serious offence in England, returned to his home, then pardoned in similar circumstance to Shields. Or if the Libyan authorities were to declare Megrahi innocent and pardon him.