Government announces independent inquiry into wrongful conviction of Andrew Malkinson

Last month, Andew Malkinson’s conviction from 2004 was overturned, after he spent 17 years in jail for a crime that he did not commit.

Since the news broke, the press have reported a litany of failures by the state following the conviction, including knowledge of the police and prosecutors that a man’s DNA – not Malkinson’s or the victim’s boyfriend – was on the victim’s clothes in a “crime specific” area. The Guardian reports that in spite of that knowledge, the police and prosecutors decided to take no further action. Similarly, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (“CCRC”) declined to order further forensic testing or refer the case for appeal.

What should have happened in Andrew Malkinson’s case?

Under CPS Guidance, where there is any doubt about the safety of the conviction, including as a result of possible fresh evidence, the CPS must write to the CCRC to raise this at the earliest opportunity . James Burley, the investigator in Malkinson’s case on behalf of the charity Appeal, pointed out that internal correspondence suggests that cost was at the forefront of the CCRC’s considerations and that the failure to raise the new evidence “may have saved the CCRC some money, but it came at a brutal cost for both Andy and the victim”.

What happens now?

The Government has announced that there will be an independent inquiry examining the actions of the Crown Prosecution Service, Greater Manchester Police and the Criminal Cases Review Commission over the past 20 years.

The inquiry will be a non-statutory investigation. We have previously written about the difference between a statutory and non-statutory inquiry here. Generally, non-statutory inquiries progress at a faster pace, but they lack the power to compel witnesses to attend or give evidence under oath, and there is no presumption for evidence to be heard in public hearings.

As such, the level of accountability provided by non-statutory inquiries relies on the cooperation of witnesses as well as the discretion of the chair of the inquiry. It is perhaps for this reason that there have been calls that the inquiry into Malkinson’s case be a public inquiry. The Justice Secretary, however, has assured the public that all agencies involved have promised full cooperation and that the chair will be appointed in the coming weeks, with hopes that a report can be finished and published by the end of the year.

Following the announcement, Mr Malkinson stated that “the police cannot be trusted to investigate impartially or act as faithful gatekeepers to the evidence”, and that his case “also shows that the CCRC, which could have spared me years of life behind bars, is not fit for purpose.” He stated that he hopes that the inquiry will result in “serious, profound changes in our justice system”.

Saunders Law currently represents core participants in a range of public inquiries, as well as representing clients in civil claims against the police, including for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and failures to properly investigate serious crimes. If you would like more information please call us on 020 7632 4300 or Make an enquiry and we will contact you.


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