Shields pardon refused

By Liz Stephens

Michael Shields, the Liverpool fan jailed for the attempted murder of a Bulgarian barman, has had his appeal for a pardon provisionally refused by justice secretary Jack Straw.

The 22-year-old was jailed for 15 years for attempted murder after his team’s victory in the Champions League Final in 2005.

The football fan from Edge Hill, Liverpool has always maintained his innocence.

In December, High Court judges ruled Jack Straw had the power to grant Shields a pardon.

However, a statement from the Ministry of Justice today said: “Following a detailed and careful consideration of all the relevant evidence the justice secretary Jack Straw has made a provisional decision that the application for a free pardon from Mr Michael Shields should be refused.

“Mr Straw has made his decision in accordance with the High Court judgment of 17 December 2008 which indicated that, in order to grant a free pardon, he would have to be satisfied that Mr Shields was morally and technically innocent.”

A government committee had been set up by the justice secretary to review new evidence which came to light after Shields’ original trial in Bulgaria which cast doubt on his conviction.

Shields was arrested with several others in the Golden Sands resort in Varna, Bulgaria, after barman Martin Georgiev was hit on the head with a paving slab, suffering a fractured skull.

He was convicted later that year and transferred to the UK to serve his sentence, which was reduced on appeal to 10 years.

He is currently serving his sentence at Thorn Cross Young Offenders Institute, in Warrington.