Criminal review board ‘sorry’ for failing Andrew Malkinson

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has admitted failing Andrew Malkinson and offered an “unreserved apology” after he spent 17 years in prison on being wrongly convicted of rape.

The body’s chairwoman, Helen Pitcher, said an independent review of the case carried out by Chris Henley KC made it clear the “commission failed” Mr Malkinson, adding: “For this, I am deeply sorry.”

But Mr Malkinson branded the apology “too little, too late” as he questioned her sincerity and called on Justice Secretary Alex Chalk to bring in “new leadership” at the CCRC.

He applied for his case to be reviewed by the CCRC in 2009 but at the conclusion of 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.

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 he felt “vindicated” by the apology but it was “too little, too late”.

He 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”.

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 spelled this out for her in black and white. It is hard for me to see sincerity in an apology after all this time.

Andrew Malkinson hearing
Andrew Malkinson served 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

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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