Rules on prisoner release 'must change' after man wrongly jailed for 17 years fears paying 'board and lodging'

29 July 2023, 10:31 | Updated: 29 July 2023, 15:41

Andrew has finally been released after 17 years
Andrew has finally been released after 17 years. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Rules around prisoner release must change after a man wrongly convicted of rape was left fearing he would have to pay for board after being let out, the government has been told.

Andrew Malkinson was jailed for life with a minimum term of seven years after wrongly being found guilty at Manchester Crown Court in 2003.

He went on to serve another 10 years after that minimum term when he refused to give in and say he did it.

The 57-year-old was finally cleared and released from jail after new DNA evidence emerged that instead linked another man to the crime.

Read more: 'Prison is hell even if you're guilty': Man wrongly jailed for rape tells LBC of 17-year ordeal behind bars

However, he is now left fearing his compensation could be slashed to pay for his imprisonment costs.

Sir Bob Neill, the senior Tory MP who is chairman of the House of Commons Justice Committee, said: "I think any fair minded person thinks this is just wrong.

"It goes back to a tightening of the rules of criminal compensation or compensation for miscarriages of justice in this case, by the Labour government in 2006.

Andrew Malkinson tells Tom how he spent his time inside

"And the argument that was made was that the public might be potentially offended for forking out money towards people who are cleared on technicalities.

"The Malkinson case manifestly is not being cleared on a technicality. The DNA evidence makes it abundantly clear."

The rules about imprisonment costs date back to a 2007 ruling from the House of Lords, then the highest court in the country.

Read more: Innocent man who spent 17 years in jail for rape fears he must pay for prison bed and board from his compensation

Malkinson, who spoke after his release, said: "Somehow the prison service has lobbied the Government in the early 2000s.

"The result is that even if you fight tooth and nail and gain compensation you then have to pay the prison service a large chunk of that for so-called 'board and lodgings', which is so abhorrent to me. I am sickened by it."

Malkinson has been released from jail
Malkinson has been released from jail. Picture: Alamy

Compensation payouts for miscarriages of justice are assessed on a case-by-case basis by an independent assessor.

They will consider a range of factors - including the particular circumstances of any individual case.

It is hoped that will mean Malkinson's fears will not come to pass.

Sir Bob told the BBC: "To say it's adding insult to injury is probably to put it more mildly than it deserves.

"It's clearly not right that somebody who was deprived of their liberty, because of the failures of the state and its institutions for a number of years, then should pay the state or be obliged to give some money back to the state, for the privilege of having been wrongly incarcerated.

"That surely offends any any kind of sense of justice."

Malkinson was prosecuted based only on eyewitness testimony. No DNA evidence ever linked him to the rape.

Greater Manchester Police apologised, saying: "We are truly sorry to Mr Malkinson that he is the victim of such a grave miscarriage of justice in being convicted of a crime he did not commit and serving a 17-year custodial sentence."

Malkinson told the victim after his release: "I am so sorry that you were attacked and brutalised that night by that man. I am not the person who attacked you but what happened to me is not your fault."

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