A recent ruling by the Court of Appeal exposed serious flaws in the case of Andrew Malkinson, whose 2004 conviction for rape was overturned due to crucial evidence withheld by the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) during his trial.
On 26 July 2023, the Court overturned Mr. Malkinson’s wrongful conviction, following the emergence of new DNA evidence pointing to another suspect. In a comprehensive judgment delivered on 7 August, the Court emphasized that the failure of the police to disclose critical evidence to Mr. Malkinson’s defense was a key factor leading to the annulment of his conviction. These crucial pieces of evidence included:
- Photographs showing the victim’s hands, contradicting earlier medical evidence used to challenge her account.
- The undisclosed criminal records of key witnesses Michael Seward and Beverley Craig, which were not presented to the jury during the trial.
The Court asserted that these non-disclosures significantly disadvantaged the defense, violating Mr. Malkinson’s right to a fair trial. Lord Justice Holroyde, delivering the judgment, highlighted the potential impact of the withheld evidence on the jury’s verdict, stating that it could have altered the outcome.
APPEAL’s persistent investigation, involving legal action against GMP, brought to light these disclosure failings years after the initial trial.
In response to the Court’s decision, Greater Manchester Police issued an apology, acknowledging Mr. Malkinson’s wrongful imprisonment and the miscarriage of justice he endured.
Andy Malkinson was released from HMP North Sea Camp in December 2020, having spent over 17 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. Despite the possibility of earlier release, his consistent claims of innocence prolonged his imprisonment by a decade.
The Court’s judgment also raised significant concerns about the effectiveness of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which twice rejected Mr. Malkinson’s appeals, despite crucial DNA evidence pointing to an alternate suspect.
In 2009, the CCRC was informed about the presence of DNA evidence unrelated to Mr. Malkinson or the victim, but it failed to grant a new appeal or conduct further forensic testing. Similarly, in 2020, the CCRC denied Mr. Malkinson’s application without pursuing essential forensic inquiries.
Only in 2022, following DNA testing commissioned by APPEAL, did the CCRC conduct a search on the National DNA Database, linking the DNA to a new suspect, ‘Mr. B’. Shockingly, ‘Mr. B’s’ DNA profile had been on the database since 2012, raising questions about the CCRC’s delay in identifying him earlier.
Had the CCRC uncovered the disclosure failings and referred Mr. Malkinson’s case to the Court of Appeal in 2009, he could have been spared a decade of wrongful imprisonment.