Ripple effects: The Andy Malkinson story and criminal justice reform

APPEAL’s James Burley on one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British history

Andy Malkinson stands on the steps of the Court of Appeal flanked by James Burley and Emily Bolton

On 26 July 2023, Andrew Malkinson finally walked out of the Royal Courts of Justice a free man. After a two-decade battle for justice, appeal judges ruled that new DNA evidence and police disclosure failures meant that Andy’s conviction should be overturned.

 

In a powerful and dignified speech outside court, Andy told the world the truth: that he is, and always has been, totally innocent of the 2003 stranger rape for which he spent more than 17 years wrongly imprisoned. “I was kidnapped by the state. It’s taken nearly 20 years to persuade by kidnappers to let me go,” Andy told the news cameras.

 

Andy’s exoneration came after years of determined work by the APPEAL team, with pro bono assistance from Ropes and Gray, Latham and Watkins, Mishcon de Reya and Morrison Foerster. There were numerous setbacks along the way: the statutory miscarriage of justice review body, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), turned Andy’s case down for a second time, and twice APPEAL had to take the police to court to get access to evidence.

 

Ultimately, though, APPEAL succeeded in commissioning new DNA testing which demonstrated Andy’s innocence. We were also able to unearth crucial evidence which the police had withheld from the defence and jury at trial.

 

Working with barristers Edward Henry KC and Max Hardy, we then succeeded in persuading the Court of Appeal to allow Andy’s appeal on three separate grounds. The Court’s judgment vindicated Andy: the judges accepted not only that the DNA results implicated another man as the real perpetrator, but also that Andy’s wrongful conviction could have been avoided if the police had not hidden evidence from him two decades prior.

 

Andy’s exoneration received extensive media coverage, in this country and around the world, and his horrific ordeal outraged the public. The Government ordered a judge-led inquiry, with the Justice Secretary saying: “Andrew Malkinson suffered an atrocious miscarriage of justice and he deserves thorough and honest answers as to how and why it took so long to uncover.” The Independent Office of Police Conduct announced it would be investigating the actions of police officers involved in the case, while the CCRC commissioned a review of its handling of Andy’s case by an external barrister.

 

It’s fair to say Andy’s name has become a by-word for the fallibility of our criminal justice system, and his case has already acted as a catalyst for positive change:

 

  • The CCRC has started reviewing thousands of previously rejected potential wrongful conviction cases to identify potential DNA testing opportunities – an exercise which could ultimately result in scores of other wrongly convicted individuals being exonerated.
  • Rules which allowed savings made on living costs while in prison to be deducted from the compensation given to miscarriage of justice victims were scrapped, after Andy highlighted them in a BBC Radio 4 Today
  • Legal aid rules were changed, so that miscarriage of justice victims are no longer forced to choose between accessing compensation payments and accessing the support they need to hold the authorities to account in the courts.

 

We will be working alongside Andy to ensure that these changes are just the beginning. After all, his case highlights the need for widespread, root-and-branch reform to minimise the numbers of miscarriages of justice and ensure that, when they do occur, they can be swiftly rectified.

 

Andy’s quest for justice is not yet over. APPEAL will continue to support Andy as he seeks full answers and accountability for what happened to him, along with the compensation he needs to rebuild his life.

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APPEAL is the working name of the Centre for Criminal Appeals, a Charitable Company Limited By Guarantee and a law practice authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Registered Charity Number: 1144162 | SRA Authorisation Number: 621184 | Company Number: 7556168

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