When the Crown discloses documents prior to the trial to the defence they send a warning which is based on section 17 of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 ( CPIA) This reads something like this: "This material is disclosed to you in accordance with the provisions of the CPIA and you must not use or disclose it, or any information recorded in it, for the purpose other than in connection with these criminal proceedings. If you do so without the premission of the court, you may commit and offence."

To get around this you must become an agent of the convicted person. In other words you act for him or her - or for the solicitor involved. This section of the Act was designed to inhibit the work of journalists in the area of miscarriages of justice, but it applies to everyone. To become an agent of the convicted person, you must ask the convict to write to you a letter along the following lines:


To whom it may concern.

I hereby give to ( name) the right to act on my behalf in all matters concerning the re-investigation of the case of my present conviction. This shall  include access to all documents presented at my trial and any other ancillary evidence lawfully granted to me. I also give permission to (name) to act on my behalf in pursuing, in a lawful manner,  a re-investigation of my case with a view to obtaining fresh evidence. I give permission for (name) to discuss my case in confidence with my solicitor; this permission does not extend to taking  any decision as to sending a petition to the Criminal Case Review Commission without my further express permission in writing.   I do not grant permission to (name) to publish, or cause to be published in any way,  any of the evidence obtained as a consequence of my granting this permission. Nor do I grant permission to (name) to benefit in any way, financially or  otherwise, from the material that may be obtained as a consequence of my granting this permission.