Prosecutors have said they will not oppose an appeal by a man who served 17 years in prison for a rape he says he did not commit.
Andrew Malkinson was jailed in 2004 for the Salford attack, despite there being no DNA evidence linking him to it.
The 57-year-old’s case was referred to the Court of Appeal in January after the new evidence was discovered.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has now confirmed it will not contest the appeal.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has also said it will not oppose his action.
Mr Malkinson, who was from Grimsby, was jailed for life in 2004 with a minimum term of seven years, but remained in prison for a further 10 because he maintained he was innocent.
His case was referred to the Court of Appeal in January by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) after new DNA evidence was discovered.
His appeal is due to be heard in July and prosecutors were given until June to decide whether to contest the appeal, but announced their decision earlier.
The court still has to determine the outcome and scope of the appeal, despite the lack of resistance.
In a statement, Mr Malkinson said he had “suffered incalculably for the last 20 years as a result of my wrongful conviction, and I continue to suffer each day”.
“I have always known I am innocent.
“Finally, the prosecution has acknowledged my conviction should not stand.”
He said while he understood it was “still the Court of Appeal’s decision to grant me justice”, it was his sincere hope that “they will give serious consideration to the disclosure failures which denied me a fair trial”.
“The police must be made accountable – no-one should have to suffer what I’ve been through,” he added.
Confirming the decision, the CPS said it had reviewed “new DNA evidence” and now “agreed that the conviction of Mr Malkinson is no longer safe”.
“Therefore, the CPS will no longer contest his appeal,” a representative said.
“A decision to overturn a conviction is a matter for the Court of Appeal.”
GMP said a decision had been taken not to contest the appeal and added it would be “inappropriate to comment in any detail until the conclusion of the Court of Appeal hearing”.
While his main ground of appeal is the fresh DNA evidence, his lawyers told the court at a preliminary hearing earlier in May that there were photographs of the victim’s hands, corroborating her evidence that she scratched her attacker and broke a nail, which were not disclosed at the time of Mr Malkinson’s trial.
They also said there was evidence that one of the key identification witnesses was a “long-term user of heroin”, which may have affected his memory, but that was not known by Mr Malkinson or his legal team at trial.
Mr Malkinson’s solicitor Emily Bolton said the CPS decision was “a major milestone in Andy’s quest for justice”.
“Andy’s 17 years of wrongful imprisonment were avoidable,” she said.
“We will be arguing that Andy’s conviction is unsafe not only in view of new DNA evidence, but because there were significant disclosure failures at his trial.”
She added that it was also “important to dissect what went wrong in Andy’s case in order to protect victims of crime and prevent wrongful convictions in future”.
Mr Malkinson previously applied twice for his case to be reviewed by the CCRC, but was turned down, eventually being released from prison in December 2020.
After his release, advancements in scientific techniques allowed his legal team, supported by legal charity Appeal, to provide new DNA analysis that cast doubt on his conviction to the CCRC.
The body then commissioned its own testing that found that DNA from the victim’s clothing matched another man on the national police database.
In January, GMP said a man had been arrested and released under investigation in light of the new information, but no decision has yet been made as to whether he will be charged.