A DEBT-RIDDEN woman serving life in prison for arranging her husband’s murder to claim an insurance payout should have her conviction reviewed, campaigners say today.

Christina Button was found guilty of encouraging her nephew, Simon Tannahill, to bludgeon George Button to death as he walked his dog in West Rainton, County Durham, in March 2003.

Button, who hoped to scoop £450,000 in insurance money after her husband’s death, was expected to serve at least 14 years. Nine years on, she is in Drake Hall Prison, in Staffordshire.

However, the Innocence Network UK (INUK) today says her case must be reconsidered by the Court of Appeal.

INUK, which includes 25 British universities, has published a dossier of 45 alleged miscarriages of justice which it says proves the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) needs urgent reform.

Currently, the CCRC can only refer the cases back to the Court of Appeal if there is a “real possibility” of a conviction being overturned and it usually focuses only on cases with fresh evidence that was not available at trial.

Dr Michael Naughton, director of INUK, said: “The crimes that these men and women are convicted of are appalling but in every single case there are questions, conflicts and problems in the evidence that led to their conviction.

“If they are genuinely innocent, it means that the dangerous criminals who committed these crimes remain at liberty with the potential to commit further serious crimes.”

INUK says a post-mortem examination concluded Mr Button died as a result of a road traffic accident.

However, a 2008 appeal application was refused by the CCRC without further investigation because Tannahill had confessed to the murder in prison.

INUK is also questioning the guilt of Jake Mawhinney and his son, Keith, convicted of murdering Tony Clarke in Hartlepool in 1998; and Steven Gray, convicted of robbing Isabella Brown, 94, of £30 in Newcastle in 2002.

In response, the CCRC said its funding had been cut but pointed to its “considerable achievements” over the past 15 years. Of 480 cases it referred to the Court of Appeal, 320 were successfully overturned.