Our campaign to change the double jeopardy law is endorsed by MP's from all parties

October 23, 2019

Posted by: Dino Nocivelli


Bob Higgins (then a youth coach at Southampton Football Club) allegedly sexually abused 6 boys in the 1980’s.  They disclosed their abuse when they were still children but the resulting criminal case ended with Higgins being held not guilty of sexual abuse.

After the public exposure of sexual abuse in football in November 2016, a significant number of people came forward disclosing sexual abuse at the hands of Bob Higgins.  After a hung jury in July 2018, Higgins was finally convicted of child abuse offences in May/June 2019 and he was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Despite two of the original six men giving evidence at three separate criminal trials, no criminal charges were able to be advanced at the two later trials due to the principle of double jeopardy.  Our double jeopardy laws prevent an accused from being retried for an offence unless the offence is one of those considered “serious” or “severe” enough to be an exception to the law and there must also be new and compelling evidence in support of the prosecution.

In respect of sexual abuse offences, it is only penetrative offences that are considered “serious” or “severe” and it is for this reason why we are supporting the #forgotten6 with their campaign to show that all forms of physical childhood sexual abuse must be considered serious and severe, and therefore an exception to the double jeopardy law.

All survivors of childhood sexual abuse deserve a chance to secure justice and closure and I hope you will help us to change the law so that the forgotten 6 are also able to get this chance.

To date, we have received extensive media support via The Telegraph, BBC, Mirror, The Times, TalkSport and others while the Victims Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, has helped our campaign to change the law.

Now we have also received the support from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse.  This is a cross party group that consists of two Conservative MP’s, two Labour MP’s, one SNP MP, one DUP MP, one Liberal Democrat Lord, one cross party Lord and one unaffiliated Lord. Their latest report recommends at page 24 that “the Government should legislate to extend the list of offences exempt from double jeopardy law to include all offences relating to non-penetrative child sexual abuse.

The Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland QC MP, has stated he is considering our proposed changes.  The forgotten 6 have been waiting a long time for justice and the pressure from the APPG’s recommendation will hopefully mean the Justice Secretary’s decision will be made sooner rather than later and will be positive for those who have experienced childhood sexual abuse.

What you can do?

You can sign the petition and also contact your local MP to ask them to support our push for change.  We need your continued support to help change the law so please help sign and share the petition.  We can make the world a better place, one change at a time.

Dino Nocivelli is a senior associate solicitor in the Abuse team at Bolt Burdon Kemp.  If you feel you may have a claim or are enquiring on behalf of a loved one, contact Dino free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4887 or at dinonocivelli@boltburdonkemp.co.uk Alternatively, complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Abuse team will contact you.  Find out more about the Abuse Team.

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Posted by: Dino Nocivelli

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