Andrew Malkinson’s conviction unsafe due to evidence disclosure failures, court rules

Andrew Malkinson following the quashing of his rape conviction, for which he was jailed for 17 years. Credit: PA Images

The conviction of a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for rape for 17 years has been deemed "unsafe" by the Court of Appeal.

Andrew Malkinson, 57, from Grimsby, was wrongly found guilty of raping a woman in Salford in 2003, and was jailed for life with a minimum term of seven years. New DNA evidence has since implicated another suspect.

An unsafe conviction means that the verdict or conviction was not based on reliable evidence and could constitute a miscarriage of justice.

Giving its full judgment today, the Court of Appeal said that the Greater Manchester Police's (GMP) failure to disclose the following evidence to Mr Malkinson’s defence provided a further basis for overturning his conviction: 

  • Photographs showing the victim’s hands contradicted medical evidence used to cast doubt on her account of causing a “deep scratch” to her attacker’s face. Mr Malkinson had no trace of any such injury seen by police officers day after the incident.

  • The criminal convictions, including for dishonesty offences, of key prosecution witnesses.

These factors breached Mr Malkinson’s right to a fair trial, the court said.

Lord Justice Holroyde said: “If the photographs had been disclosed, the jury’s verdicts may have been different”.

In relation to the undisclosed prosecution convictions, Lord Justice Holroyde said: "Cross-examination about the witnesses’ previous convictions would have been capable of casting doubt on their general honesty and capable of affecting the jury’s view as to whether they were civic-minded persons doing their best to assist.

"In our judgement, the challenge to the character and credibility of those two identifying witnesses would have been capable of affecting the jury’s overall view as to whether they could be sure that the appellant was correctly identified.”

Andrew Malkinson outside the Court of Appeal on 26 July. Credit: PA Images

Responding to the Court’s judgment, Andrew Malkinson said: “I feel vindicated by the Court’s finding that Greater Manchester Police unlawfully withheld evidence, denying me a fair trial and causing my wrongful conviction nightmare.

“The evidence needed to overturn my conviction has been sitting in police files for the past two decades.

“I want Helen Pitcher to apologise and take accountability for the Criminal Cases Review Commission's (CCRC) failures, which cost me extra years behind bars for a crime I did not commit.

“I want politicians to give people seeking to prove their innocence a right to access the evidence on their case – since the police and CCRC have proved they cannot be trusted.”

Andrew Malkinson was wrongly jailed for 17 years for a crime he did not commit. Credit: Andrew Malkinson

James Burley, who led APPEAL’s investigation into Mr Malkinson’s case, said: “This ruling makes clear that Andy’s wrongful conviction was the direct result of the police unlawfully withholding evidence at his trial.

“It shows why in an adversarial system, the police cannot be relied upon to act as trustworthy gatekeepers to the evidence.

“It also shows that the evidence needed to exonerate Andy was sitting in police files for the past twenty years. Yet the body which is meant to investigate miscarriages of justice failed to uncover it, leaving it to our small charity to bring it to light.

“There can be no doubt now that the CCRC’s failure to investigate properly cost Andy an extra decade wrongfully imprisoned. Helen Pitcher must now take accountability and apologise to Andy, or else resign.

“A new legal mechanism should be introduced to challenge CCRC failings, and lawyers investigating miscarriages of justice should be given a right of access to police files.”

ITV News has contacted the Criminal Cases Review Commission for a response.

In a statement released on Monday, Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Jackson said: "As head of crime for GMP, I am responsible for leading the force’s response to all major crime. I speak on behalf of the whole force when I say that we are truly sorry for this most appalling miscarriage of justice. GMP accepts the court of appeal judgement.

"Understandably Mr Malkinson is seeking to understand the circumstances around what happened in 2003 and that today’s ruling will bring up further questions for him and the public about how he was wrongfully found guilty of such a horrific crime. However, due to a live criminal investigation in which a suspect remains on bail, we are limited in what we can comment on. GMP is also subject to a live IOPC investigation in relation to this case.

"I have extended an invitation to meet with Mr Malkinson and say sorry to him personally for the time he wrongly spent in prison and for all that he endured as a consequence.

"I know that the process to overturn this conviction has been arduous and lengthy and I apologise for any part GMP may have had in this experience. 

"I promise that GMP will continue to investigate all new lines of enquiry to ensure the right person is held responsible for this awful crime."

Meanwhile, Andrew Malkinson has also claimed that a million pounds is "not enough" to compensate him for his ordeal.

It's the maximum amount of compensation payable under the miscarriage of justice compensation scheme.

He told the Daily Mail newspaper: "It's pretty lamentable. £1 million sounds like a lot of money, but that represents nearly two decades of living hell and lost opportunities and lost love and everything else that makes life precious.

"It's capped at ten years, but what happens to people like me who've spent much longer than ten years (in prison), almost double? It seems very unfair.

"I don't think any amount would be enough, but it should be significantly higher than it is."

Mr Malkinson is now pressing for further reforms after it was announced on Sunday that wrongly convicted people will no longer face having living costs covering their time in prison docked from compensation payments after ministers issued fresh guidance.

"It says a lot about our justice system that this perverse rule was introduced in the first place," he told the Daily Mail.

"I hope the minister will now meet with me to discuss the many other reforms needed."

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk KC made the reform with immediate effect on Sunday.

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