Andy Malkinson calls for Criminal Cases Review Commission chair to step down

For the 17 years he spent in prison for a crime he was innocent of, Andy Malkinson says he felt “terrorised” by the justice system. Now he is fighting back.

It has been less than two weeks since the appeal court overturned his conviction for a 2003 rape after a DNA breakthrough and Malkinson, 57, has already succeeded in changing the law on compensation for victims of miscarriages of justice.

Speaking at the central London offices of Appeal, the justice charity that fought to overturn his conviction, he is reeling at how quickly his circumstances have changed – and still beaming.

“Things have done a complete 180, whichever way you look at it. I mean, my oppressors are on the defensive. So it feels good, of course. It feels great,” he says.

On Sunday the Ministry of Justice announced it would no longer be deducting prison housing and food costs from the damages paid to the wrongly convicted after Malkinson spoke powerfully on the subject. On Tuesday this was strengthened further when justice minister Alex Chalk said he was considering backdating this to those who had deductions in the last 10 years.

The win has given Malkinson a taste for reform. “I hope they’re a little bit afraid of me,” he said of the justice system. “It’s a role reversal. Because they terrorised me for all that time I was in prison … it feels good now the boot’s on the other foot. I’m coming for them.”

His next target is the miscarriage of justice body that twice failed to investigate his case sufficiently to refer it to the court of appeal – leaving him a decade longer in prison as a result. He first applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) in 2009 but it did not find the police disclosure failures identified by Appeal.

While his conviction was overturned on the basis of DNA evidence last month, the appeal court’s full judgment was handed down on Monday, finding his conviction was unsafe because police withheld crucial information from his defence lawyers.

Malkinson wants to see better access to police files for people trying to investigate their own convictions. In his case, while the CCRC would have had ready access to police files, it took legal action before Greater Manchester police allowed his team to access the documents that ultimately revealed the force’s disclosure failures.

“Why the secrecy? They should be public documents,” Malkinson said.

A petition calling for an apology from the CCRC’s chair, Helen Pitcher, and an internal review of what happened already has more than 78,000 signatures.

Malkinson said: “I think Helen Pitcher should resign because she’s not shown any contrition for the terrible mistakes.

“I served an extra 10 years. They could’ve straightened this out more than 10 years ago if they’d simply looked for the evidence. But they refused to even investigate properly. They just did a paper exercise, found a reason why they shouldn’t refer [to the appeal court]. And that was it. Twice.”

The CCRC was set up in the wake of notorious miscarriages of justice such as the Birmingham Six case, but has come under criticism for failing to refer more cases back for appeal. It grants new appeals in less than 2% of the cases it considers, a figure that Malkinson believes shows they are not doing enough to investigate.

He said: “It’s a good idea but its culture has become stagnant and they’re too afraid of wrongfooting themselves with the judiciary. They need to be bold, not frightened.”

His lawyer, the director of Appeal, Emily Bolton, said that in pushing Pitcher for an apology and an independent review of the CCRC’s handling of his case, Malkinson was “not asking much”, but there had been no message back. “I’m really quite staggered that that seems to be beyond them,” she said.

Reiterating a statement issued after the court of appeal’s judgment, Pitcher said: “It is plainly wrong that a man spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

“In each review, we focused on the submissions made to us. But knowing what we know now we would have sought the undisclosed police evidence to refer this case.”

Andy Malkinson outside the high court, wearing black T-shirt with slogan reading: ‘Innocent – and not the only one’

The weekend after he was exonerated, Malkinson left Britain for the Netherlands, where he had been living for a decade before his arrest in 2003. He was only meant to be visiting England but ended up trapped for 20 years, still unable to travel after his release from prison because in the eyes of the law he was a convicted sex offender.

This week he is back in London briefly for meetings with lawyers to consider his options for a civil claim but will “go home” to the Netherlands again on Thursday.

His former girlfriend, Karin Schuitemaker, who campaigned for his release while he was in prison, has lent him her boat to sleep in and they are planning a trip around the Netherlands in it when the weather improves.

Malkinson wants to stay in the Netherlands “for as long as possible” but will have to leave in October. Brexit means he can no longer live there freely – though if he had not been imprisoned in the UK, he would probably be a Dutch citizen. He has written to the British and Dutch governments asking if they might assist him in getting a Dutch passport, given the circumstances.

Another man was arrested in December in connection with the rape and released under investigation.

GMP’s assistant chief constable, Sarah Jackson, said the whole force was “truly sorry for this most appalling miscarriage of justice” and that it accepted the court of appeal judgment. She said the force was limited in what it could comment on because of a live criminal investigation and an Independent Office for Police Conduct investigation into the case.

Jackson has requested to meet Malkinson and apologise in person but he says it feels “hollow”, coming only after the appeal ruling.

“It was only a few months ago when they were refusing to disclose to us vital information,” he said. “They weren’t very apologetic then.”


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