'Unreserved apology' issued to Andrew Malkinson after wrongful rape conviction

Andrew Malkinson.
Andrew Malkinson was wrongfully convicted in 2003 for raping a woman and was sentenced to 17 years in jail. Credit: PA Images

A man who spent 17 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of rape has been offered an "unreserved apology" for the failing.

Andrew Malkinson was wrongfully convicted in 2003 for raping a woman in Little Hulton, in Salford.

Despite not fitting the description given by witnesses, he was handed a life sentence and spent 17 years in prison before new evidence proved his innocence.

Now the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the body responsible for investigating alleged miscarriages of justice, has offered the unreserved apology after a review made it "clear ... that the commission failed" Mr Malkinson.

But Mr Malkinson branded the apology “too little, too late” as he questioned her sincerity and called on Justice Secretary Alex Chalk to bring in “new leadership” at the CCRC.

During his time in prison, Mr Malkinson twice applied for his case to be referred for appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) but was turned down on both occasions.

He had applied for his case to be reviewed by the CCRC in 2009, but at the conclusion of its review in 2012 the commission refused to order further forensic testing or refer the case for appeal, amid concerns over costs.

A second application was rejected in 2020.

Crucial DNA evidence had been available since 2007, but no match was found on the police database at the time.

Mr Malkinson eventually had his 2003 conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal in July 2023 after new DNA evidence potentially linking another man to the crime was identified.

The chairwoman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), Helen Pitcher, offered the “unreserved apology” after an independent review of the case by Chris Henley KC was completed.

Ms Pitcher said: “Mr Henley’s report makes sobering reading, and it is clear from his findings that the commission failed Andrew Malkinson.

"For this, I am deeply sorry. I have written to Mr Malkinson to offer him my sincere regret and an unreserved apology on behalf of the commission.

“There may have been a belief that I have been unwilling ever to apologise to Mr Malkinson, and I want to clarify that this is not the case.

"For me, offering a genuine apology required a clear understanding of the circumstances in which the commission failed Mr Malkinson. We now have that.

“Nobody can ever begin to imagine the devastating impact that Mr Malkinson’s wrongful conviction has had on his life, and I can only apologise for the additional harm caused to him by our handling of his case.”

She added that the organisation would provide Mr Malkinson with a copy of the review report, which contains nine recommendations, and that it intended to make the findings public at a later date.

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

Mr Malkinson, who previously called for Ms Pitcher to be sacked and stripped of her OBE, said he felt “vindicated” by the apology but it was “too little, too late”.

He said the CCRC’s failings caused him a “world of pain” as he accused her of apologising now because “the CCRC has been found out, and the last escape hatch has now closed on them”.

In a statement issued on his behalf by legal charity Appeal, Mr Malkinson said: “The time for Helen Pitcher to apologise was last summer when I was exonerated.

“It was already crystal clear that the CCRC had completely failed me. Yet she’s held off on apologising until a report spelled this out for her in black and white. It is hard for me to see sincerity in an apology after all this time.

“The CCRC’s delay in apologising to me added significantly to the mental turmoil I am experiencing as I continue to fight for accountability for what was done to me.”

He claimed Ms Pitcher disputed criticisms of the CCRC’s handling of his case when they were put to her by his lawyer in September last year and refused a direct request for an apology at the time.

“That smacks to me of someone who is in denial and not fit to lead a body which is meant to be dedicated to rooting out failings in our justice system”, he said, adding: “I hope the Justice Secretary Alex Chalk will bring in new leadership at the CCRC.

“I am innocent and I am not the only one. Others must not be let down as I was. The CCRC should be led by people with empathy, humility and a track record of fighting injustice.”

Mr Malkinson’s legal team previously discovered striking similarities between his ordeal and the earlier CCRC case of Victor Nealon, whose 1997 conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal in December 2013 after new DNA evidence was unearthed.

An inquiry ordered by the Government into Mr Malkinson’s case is also being carried out.

The CCRC has not yet said when it will publish Mr Henley’s findings but, according to Appeal, neither Mr Malkinson nor the charity have been sent the report so far.

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