Investigation launched into Greater Manchester Police's handling of Andrew Malkinson complaints

Andrew Malkinson was wrongfully jailed for rape in 2004. Credit: PA Images

An investigation has opened into the way Greater Manchester Police handled complaints from the legal team of a man wrongfully convicted of rape.

Andrew Malkinson, who served 17 years in prison for rape, had his conviction overturned by the Court of Appeal in July.

Now the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has begun an investigation into Greater Manchester Police (GMP) handled a complaint containing an allegation regarding the failure to retain items of evidence.

Mr Malkinson said he hoped the IOPC would “take the opportunity to root out the corruption plaguing GMP, and to hold individual officers accountable for the tremendous suffering they have caused”.

The complaints relate to an allegation regarding the failure to retain items of evidence and the failure to reveal information relating to two witnesses who gave evidence at the trial, the IOPC said.

IOPC director of operations Amanda Rowe said the watchdog would ensure there is “thorough scrutiny of the actions of police involved”.

The IOPC review highlighted “significant issues with GMP’s investigation into the complaints and identified several outstanding lines of inquiry”.

Andrew Malkinson outside the Court of Appeal after his rape conviction was overturned. Credit: PA Images

Amanda Rowe, IOPC Director of Operations, said: “My thoughts are with Mr Malkinson, who has suffered greatly as a result of one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British legal history.

“Given our concerns over GMP’s handling of the complaints – and the significant public interest in a case that led to a man spending 17 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit – our involvement will ensure there is thorough scrutiny of the actions of police involved.

“Our investigation, which will be carried out independently of the police, will focus on the specific allegations raised in Mr Malkinson’s complaints. We are not reviewing the original criminal investigation, nor do we have the power to do so.

“We are in contact with the Government about its broader inquiry into the wrongful conviction. We will continue to work with the chair and inquiry team so that our work and theirs is aligned to ensure that the actions of GMP are fully examined.”

Andrew Malkinson spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Credit: PA Images

Mr Malkinson was arrested in 2003 and convicted of rape in 2004. He was released on licence in 2020 and his conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal in July this year.

The IOPC received a referral from GMP in November 2020 following a complaint concerning the loss, and presumed destruction, of items of clothing that had been stored as evidence in the case.

The IOPC says at that time there was no conclusive evidence that the actions of police had harmed the administration of justice.

It says it received a further referral in February 2022 following a complaint that GMP had failed to disclose the criminal histories of two key prosecution witnesses at Mr Malkinson’s trial.

It told GMP to include this as part of its ongoing investigation, which was at an advanced stage at that time, to avoid considerable further delays.

In March 2023, the IOPC received a request to review GMP’s handling of these complaints.

Its casework staff found the allegations relating to the handling of evidence and disclosure of information about witnesses were not dealt with in a reasonable and proportionate matter.

The review also looked at GMP’s handling of a third allegation, concerning correspondence that was not passed to the addressee.

It found the outcome and steps taken to remedy the concern raised were reasonable and proportionate - so will not investigate further.

The IOPC also upheld a second review, received in April 2023, challenging GMP’s decision not to investigate a further complaint regarding the disclosure of information about a witness.

It determined further inquiries into the allegations were required and this will form part of its investigation.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk ordered an independent public inquiry into the circumstances and handling of Andrew Malkinson’s case in August.

Case files obtained by 57-year-old Mr Malkinson as he battled to be freed show that police and prosecutors knew forensic testing in 2007 had identified a searchable male DNA profile on the rape victim’s vest top that did not match his own.

No match was found on the police database at the time and no further action was taken.

GMP Chief Constable Stephen Watson said (in August of the government inquiry): “I welcome the opportunity that this independent inquiry represents to examine all of the relevant facts in forensic detail.

"GMP’s participation in this process will be fulsome and reflective of integrity, candour and humility.”

Reacting to the IOPC’s announcement, Mr Malkinson said: “I am pleased that the IOPC has announced an independent investigation into GMP’s handling of my case and the GMP officers who caused my wrongful imprisonment for 17 years.

“I never trusted GMP to conduct an effective investigation into my complaints of police misconduct and corruption – because the police complaints system allows them to mark their own homework.

“This IOPC investigation should be led by a member of the IOPC who is not a former police officer, otherwise I fear it will be more of the same.

“I hope the IOPC takes this opportunity to root out the corruption plaguing GMP, and to hold individual officers accountable for the tremendous suffering they have caused me.

“Nobody else should have to go through what I have been through.”

Emily Bolton, Mr Malkinson’s criminal defence solicitor at charity and law practice Appeal, said: “The officers involved in Andy’s case believed they could act with impunity, and their conduct has gone unscrutinised for nearly 20 years.

“The problems in this case started on the very first day of the police investigation. Andy should never have been a suspect, but GMP officers were determined to pursue him.

“GMP’s investigation into Andy’s complaints was evasive and flawed, they failed to follow reasonable lines of enquiry and reached untenable conclusions on the evidence. No officers were disciplined for their conduct.

“I hope that any whistle-blowers with knowledge of GMP’s handling of Andy’s case will come forward.

“The IOPC must now swiftly gather all evidence from the GMP investigation and shine a light on their mishandling of this case, so that we can reduce the chances of this ever happening again.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...