Ann Craven, who was Chair of INNOCENT for more than twelve years,
died on 13 June 2010 of cancer, following a short period of illness.
Although she never sought prominence for herself, she had become well
known amongst those serving prison sentences for crimes they had not
committed, as well as their families and supporters.
Funeral Eulogy, by Andrew Green
Delivered at Ann's funeral, Friday 25 June 2010, at St James Parish Church, Hollin Cross Lane, Glossop SK
I’ve been asked to put on record the very important work that Ann did for INNOCENT.
But first I want to say how important Ann was to me as a friend. She was a true friend, always frank, honest and supportive. I valued her advice highly and I will miss her a lot. I’m sure most people here feel the same.
Ann Craven was fighting for her son Adrian’s future when I met her in 1994 at a meeting of INNOCENT. He had been convicted of rape, and was then suffering appalling treatment in Wakefield prison.
I was, and am still, a member of INNOCENT. We are a Manchester-based group of families of people believed to be wrongly convicted of serious crimes.
Adrian’s conviction was overturned on appeal and he was fully exonerated, due to Ann’s insistence on making sure that the lawyers did their jobs thoroughly.
When you join INNOCENT, you find many other people are in the same situation as you are. Ann witnessed the damage that wrongful conviction of the innocent – of people who didn’t commit the crime of which they were convicted – the damage this does to those convicted and to their families, who, as Ann always said, ‘serve sentences along with the one who’s inside.’
From then on she committed much of her life to helping them. She was driven by her hatred of injustice and anger at those working in the criminal justice system who caused injustice through their incompetence, venality or corruption, but also by her compassion for the victims of injustice.
I couldn’t provide you with a list of all the people she helped. We’d be here all day if I tried.
In 1995 she became chair of INNOCENT. She held the organisation together for 15 years, until she became too ill to do so, earlier this year.
It’s an impressive achievement. INNOCENT is now a thriving organisation with many members attending its regular meetings – but this was only a limited success, in Ann’s view - she thought there should be no need for organisations like ours: our aim is to make our work unnecessary, but sadly, our services are ever more in demand: the government has brought in laws that make miscarriages more likely, the police choose the easy route of fitting people up, and the lawyers don’t do their jobs properly.
That’s what Ann thought, and I agree with her.
She reached these conclusions through knowledge she gained of the bitter experiences of herself and others. And so her advice to families was always to take control of their cases in every detail. On several occasions she personally advised defendants before their cases came to trial, resulting in several acquittals. And INNOCENT has had some successes in helping innocent persons to be freed – but never enough.
In 2001 Ann helped to found United Against Injustice (UAI), which is a national federation of groups like INNOCENT.
Since 2002 Ann helped to organise UAI’s annual Miscarriage of Justice Day public meetings – 7 of them in different cities across the country.
These are usually chaired by Bruce Kent, addressed by distinguished forensic experts, national journalists and academics, and attended by hundreds of people fighting to overturn wrongful convictions. Before every meeting she worried that it might not work – but every meeting turned out to be a success, and the people who came said they gained a tremendous amount from being there – advice, support and knowing they are not alone, the strength to carry on in the hard struggle to overturn miscarriages of justice
Ann was gratified by the success of her work, but she was always disappointed that the problems which made these events successful – the causes of miscarriages of justice and the cases themselves – were scarcely acknowledged by the media, the papers and television.
Ann took nothing, not even expenses, from the people and organisations who benefitted from her work. But she brought to this work a clarity of thought, a focussed intelligence, as well as an appreciation of how INNOCENT should provide a unique haven where families of victims of miscarriages of justice could talk freely and begin to find ways out of their desperate situations.
As a result of her personal commitment to challenging injustice, the organisations which she helped to sustain are now strong enough to continue her work, and those of us in them are inspired by her example.
She will be sorely missed by all of us, her own family, colleagues and friends, and the families who were without hope until she gave them some, and prisoners who had no one else to turn to.
Ann Craven was, to me, both a better person and a more important one than any of the politicians or lawyers who are full of their own self importance. We need more people like her in the world: committed, determined, and fearlessly honest.
Thank you all for coming and acknowledging her importance and celebrating her life.
Ray Gilbert, a life sentence prisoner, writes:
I wish you all well at this sad time with Ann's passing away. So sudden and a big loss to everyone. I hope everyone is coping and carrying on the good work of Ann, who, I'm quite sure, would want that.
A kind, caring, friendly woman who fought for what she believed in and will be missed by us all. Her struggles mad me realise I wasn't alone. She put aside her own problems to support people like me so that we would not be forgotten.
I wish you all the best. Look after yourselves and take care.