Emma McClure is a Solicitor specialising in Prison and Public Law.
Emma joined Swain and Co in September 2014. She completed a law degree and an M.A. in human rights law at Manchester University obtaining a distinction in her dissertation on the European Court of Human Rights and her LPC.
Emma is committed to public law and human rights work. She brings a breadth of experience to the firm from her previous work in various public law areas including actions against the police, community care, prison and public law. Emma also has experience of working on high profile judicial review matters heard in the supreme court and ECHR.
Outside of the office Emma enjoys being involved in the campaign work of Young Legal Aid Lawyers, spending time with her friends and family and being an active member of a regional critical-thinking/rationalist Society.
The state of UK prisons have been increasingly in the news recently with worrying reports of murder, self harm and escapes. We at Swain and Co hope that this will shine a spotlight on the difficulties that our clients face day in and day out and lead to real imrpovements. In response to the recent spate of media coverage Emma McClure, one of our prison specialists was recently interviewed on the 'partly political podcast' about the current crisis and you can listen to it here: http://www.tiernandouieb.co.uk/podcast/partly-political-broadcast-episode-37-8th-november-2016/’
What Emma's Client's say:
I was your client for a year and you helped me with the Parole. I was very happy with your work, you were prepared very well for the presentation. Without your help I would not be granted the Parole and I would not be free now. You were very understandable easy to talk too and very polite person too. You also gave me good advice for any problem I had. My words for your help are endless.
“Swain & Co are a great team for help also Emma McClure is a honour to your company, Swain & Co are a very good firm.”
Emma on YouTube:
A selection of Emma's recent success cases:
Client gets Parole within hours of oral hearing.
Emma recently acted for a client who had been returned to custody following a period of being unlawfully at large(UAL) for around 10 years. There was initially great concern from the Parole Board that the client’s failure to return represented a gross breach of trust and showed that he may not be manageable on license. There was also concern that the client’s family home was not suitable and that any release would need to initially be to an approved premises.However Emma was able to demonstrate through representations and the client’s conduct that his time UAL in fact demonstrated that he had successfully dealt with his risk factors. In that time he had raised a family and worked full time. In addition it was clear that the authorities could have located the client much sooner than they did given that he had simply returned to his family home and had made no effort to evade the authorities. He simply did not come to their attention until a cold case review was undertaken.
Emma was also able to highlight the stark contrast between young man who had entered the prison system over a decade ago and the mature family man he had become without supervision.
It was very pleasing to see that the Panel took on board these arguments and agreed that keeping this client in custody was not helpful in terms of risk management. In light of this the decision to release him immediately was disseminated within an hour and a half of the hearing and he was able to sleep in his own bed with at home with his young family that same night.
Open Refusal Overturned
Emma recently acted for a post-tariff IPP prisoner who fell afoul of the Secretary of State’s open conditions ban. This is the policy whereby anyone who escapes or absconds or attempts to escape or abscond is banned from transfer to open conditions.
The client in question had finished a significant amount of time in therapeutic community and had strong support for a transfer to open conditions and wished to pursue this in order to develop a strong release plan. Like many IPPs the client had often felt hopeless due to his seemingly endless sentence and the frustrations of trying to navigate the prison system. He had therefore previously received adjudications for protesting behaviour including climbing to height whilst in closed conditions.
At his Parole Hearing, where he was represented by Emma, the Panel were very impressed with the work that the client had done since that time and whilst he had still had ongoing relapse issues the Panel recommended that the client transfer to open conditions.
However following this decision the Secretary of State retrospectively removed open conditions as an option in the case as they had classed the incident at height as an escape attempt. This left the client stuck in closed and made his parole review effectively null and void.
Emma immediately sent a letter before action threatening judicial review proceedings if this decision was not overturned to allow the client to progress. Emma argued that this narrow decision was unfair due to the timing and the failure to take in account the views of the Parole Board.
Following receipt of this letter the Secretary of State reversed the refusal and endorsed the Parole Board’s open recommendations without the need to take the matter to Court. The client has now been able to transfer to open conditions with minimal delay.
If you think that you have had open conditions unfairly removed as an option for your parole review contact Swain and Co today.
One day, two hearings, two successes!
Emma recently represented two recall prisoners at their parole hearings on the same day at the same prison. Each case highlighted different but common issues prisoners can face. They also show how such issues can be easily overcome with the right representation.
In one case the prisoner had been caught being involved in drone activity very shortly before the hearing and was under police investigation. As a result of this the witnesses were not recommending release due to poor custodial behaviour and the client felt there would be no chance of a positive outcome and no point in having a hearing. Emma was able to successfully argue at the hearing that such activity did not relate to risk of harm which is the test which concerns the parole board. The Panel agreed and release was directed.
In the second case the client was said to be a management problem with a large volume of cnomis entries and having been transferred due to his behaviour. Following careful consideration of the cnomis information and questioning of the witnesses it was clear that the negative information all related to either self-harm or genuine threats to his safety- a very different picture to that portrayed by the prison record. The Panel agreed with Emma’s assessment and this client was released within 2 weeks of his hearing.
Lifer returned to closed before ROTLs gains direct release from closed.
Emma recently assisted a post-tariff lifer who had been returned to closed conditions before he was able to begin ROTLs. PPCS had failed to properly consider representations seeking a return to open so by the time of the oral hearing the client was still in closed conditions. EM was able to successfully argue that had PPCS properly considered the RTC issue when it occurred the client would, in all likelihood, have been returned to open as the reasons for his returned had not raised his risk. Emma was also able to successfully argue that ROTLs were not necessary in this case as client spent time out of the prison working without incident and he had worked hard both before and since RTC to firm up his own release plan as far as he was able despite difficulties in contacting probation. Despite the misgivings of probation the Parole Board saw sense in this case and directed the client’s release so he will now be able to enjoy his first Christmas with his family after around a decade and a half in custody.
Prisoner recalled on serious allegations regains freedom
Emma recently represented a client who was recalled following extremely serious allegations of stalking and harassment made by an ex-partner. This was compounded by the fact that he was in breach of a licence condition to disclose relationships. At the time of recall the client was under police investigation. This was dropped a few months later without charge. At the time of recall the professional witnesses felt that the client would need to complete a significant amount of work to address what was seen as new risk factors stemming from the recall.
In representations seeking an oral hearing Emma sought disclosure of the information gathered by the police during the course of their investigation to clarify exactly why the matter had been dropped as the client was adamant that he had not engaged in criminal behaviour. This information was disclosed shortly before the hearing and Emma was able to show that the allegations made were entirely false as the client had conducted himself properly with the exception of failing to disclose the relationship. This completely changed the nature of the case and Emma successfully argued that client had still been managing his risks despite the breach of his licence. The Parole Board directed release.