Andrew Malkinson receives ‘unreserved apology’ after 17-year jail sentence for rape he didn’t commit

Andrew Malkinson, who served 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London
Andrew Malkinson, who served 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London after he was cleared of the offence last year - JORDAN PETTITT/PA

The head of the criminal cases review commission (CCRC) has offered an “unreserved apology” for “failing” Andrew Malkinson over his 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit.

Mr Malkinson was jailed in 2004 for an attack on a woman in Salford the year before. His conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal in July 2023 after DNA linking another man to the crime was produced.

However, Mr Malkinson responded to the commission’s apology by saying it was “too little, too late” even though he felt vindicated by the apology from Helen Pitcher,  the CCRC’s chairman.

He said the time for Ms Pitcher to apologise was last summer and found it hard to accept the apology was sincere “after all this time.”

“When you are truly sorry for what you have done, you respond immediately and instinctively, it wells up in you,” he said.

Ms Pitcher – who was in Montenegro promoting her holiday home business at the height of the controversy – faced demands to quit after refusing to be publicly questioned over the CCRC’s double rejection of Mr Malkinson’s appeals against his wrongful conviction for rape.

Mr Malkinson outside the Court of Appeal last month after his conviction was quashed
Mr Malkinson outside the Court of Appeal last month after his conviction was quashed last year - JORDAN PETTITT/PA

Mr Malkinson had his 2003 conviction quashed last summer after years of protesting his innocence. He applied for his case to be reviewed by the CCRC in 2009 but after 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.

A review of the CCRC handling of the case by Chris Henley KC is understood to have found serious failings by the body. In a statement on Thursday, 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.”

Mr Malkinson, who previously called for Ms Pitcher to be sacked and stripped of her OBE, 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”.

‘Others must not be let down as I was’

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 spelt 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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