UK Justice Secretary Refuses to Pardon Shields
UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw has refused an appeal for a pardon by jailed football fan Michael Shields.
Shields was jailed for 15 years in Bulgaria in 2005 for the attempted murder of barman Martin Georgiev, who had a rock dropped on his head in Varna. His sentence was later reduced when he was transferred to a UK prison.
Shields, like a number of Liverpool fans, had broken the journey home from Istanbul following Liverpool FC's European Cup victory in Turkey.
In a provisional decision on Thursday, Straw was unable to conclude the 22-year-old was "morally and technically innocent", a Ministry of Justice spokesman said.
Liverpool city councillor Joe Anderson, who has spearheaded the drive to free the Reds fan, said: "We have only just heard and I am on my way to see Michael's parents to discuss it."
The Ministry of Justice said a High Court judgment in December last year set a "very high" bar for granting what is known as a free pardon.
The Justice Ministry spokesman said: "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 Shields was morally and technically innocent.
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