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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Dominic McGrath

End ‘living costs’ charges for wrongfully convicted prisoners, says Tory MP

PA Wire

A senior Tory MP has urged ministers to change the rules, after a man who spent 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit said he now feared having to pay for his “board and lodging” while locked up.

Andrew Malkinson, 57, was wrongly found guilty of raping a woman in Greater Manchester in 2003 and the next year was jailed for life with a minimum term of seven years.

He served 10 more years because he maintained his innocence, but his conviction was quashed by senior judges at the Court of Appeal on Wednesday after DNA evidence linking another man to the crime came to light.

But Mr Malkinson is now concerned that he could, under current rules, face deductions from any compensation for the living costs covered during his time in prison.

The rules can be traced back to a 2007 ruling by the House of Lords, at a time when it was the country’s highest court.

But the chairman of the Commons Justice Committee Sir Bob Neill has added his voice to concerns about current practice.

To say it's adding insult to injury is probably to put it more mildly than it deserves
— Sir Bob Neill

“I think any fair minded person thinks this is just wrong.

“It goes back to a tightening of the rules of criminal compensation or compensation for miscarriages of justice in this case, by the Labour government in 2006.

“And the argument that was made was that the public might be potentially offended for forking out money towards people who are cleared on technicalities.

“The Malkinson case manifestly is not being cleared on a technicality. The DNA evidence makes it abundantly clear,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“To say it’s adding insult to injury is probably to put it more mildly than it deserves.

“It’s clearly not right that somebody who was deprived of their liberty, because of the failures of the state and its institutions for a number of years, then should pay the state or be obliged to give some money back to the state, for the privilege of having been wrongly incarcerated.

“That surely offends any any kind of sense of justice.”

He said that he would like ministers to change the rules to protect those wrongly convicted from paying such costs.

“The sums involved are trivial in the overall scheme of things,” he said.

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