Senior judge to chair inquiry into wrongful rape conviction of Andrew Malkinson

Mr Malkison's conviction was quashed in July. Credit: PA Images

A senior judge has been appointed to chair the independent inquiry into the handling of a case of a man who spent 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit.

Andrew Malkinson was previously found guilty of attacking a woman in Salford in 2003, despite "no forensic matter" linking him to the crime.

Judges ruled that verdict was "unsafe" after hearing new DNA evidence, taken from the victim's fingernails, skin and clothing, did not match Mr Malkinson, from Grimsby.

After the ruling was overturned Justice Secretary Alex Chalk announced a non-statutory inquiry in August, describing the wrongful conviction as “an atrocious miscarriage of justice”.

Senior circuit judge Sarah Munro KC will chair the probe, which will examine how Greater Manchester Police (GMP), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) handled the case.

It will not however look at the appeals process more generally, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has also begun its own investigation into the case - examining the allegation that GMP failed to keep evidence and then failed to reveal information relating to two witnesses who gave evidence at the trial.

In a statement issued after her appointment, Judge Munro, who was the first judge to deliver a televised sentencing, said Mr Malkinson “deserves the truth” and was determined for the inquiry to be “fearless and robust”.

She said: “Mr Malkinson’s wrongful convictions for horrific crimes he did not commit have cost him nearly two decades of freedom - time he has been forced to spend protesting his innocence and fighting for justice - and have had a devastating impact on his life.

“The inquiry will focus on the police investigation, criminal trial, Mr Malkinson’s appeals and any matters that I consider relevant and important to uncovering how and why this serious miscarriage of justice took place.

“Mr Malkinson deserves the truth, and I am determined that this inquiry will be fearless and robust in seeking that truth and considering what lessons the justice system must learn.”

Andrew Malkinson reads a statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice after being cleared by the Court of Appeal Credit: Jordan Pettitt/PA

Reacting to the news Andrew Malkinson said although he welcomed the appointment he had "no confidence" in those called telling the truth.

He said: "I welcome the appointment of Judge Munro to chair this inquiry. My hope is she and her team will tenaciously pursue the truth, so that I can finally get full answers and accountability.

"However, I have no confidence that those involved, including the police officers who wrecked my life, will cough up the truth unless forced to do so.

"At the first sign of any recalcitrance from the police or anyone else, I hope this inquiry will be given the power to compel witnesses and disclosure.

"I also hope that the CCRC's Chair will not wait until the outcome of this inquiry to finally offer me an apology.

"The CCRC's failure to investigate properly cost me an extra decade wrongly behind bars and I can't understand why she won't say sorry."

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

Judge Munro was appointed as a circuit judge in 2011 and a senior circuit judge at the Old Bailey in 2017 – specialising in homicide, serious fraud and serious sexual offences.

Mr Malkinson met with the newly appointed chair and Mr Chalk to discuss the terms of reference and the running of the inquiry, the MoJ said.

The terms of reference state that the probe will establish the course of events from the rape offence to Mr Malkinson’s exoneration, as well as the decisions made and actions taken by the agencies involved.

They also say the inquiry will operate so as not to prejudice the ongoing criminal investigation into the original rape offence and will set out lessons to be learned when the probe concludes.

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.

Mr Malkinson wrote to the CCRC in 2009 for a review of his case, but at the conclusion of its review in 2012, the commission refused to order further forensic testing or refer the case for appeal.

CCRC documents relating to the case between 2009 and 2012 suggest there were concerns about costs.

Mr Chalk has asked Judge Munro to produce the inquiry’s findings promptly, the MoJ said.

He said: “Judge Munro KC, a senior and highly respected judge, will leave no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of what went wrong, so that vital lessons are learned.”

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