An innocent man spent 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit may have his prison accommodation and food costs deducted from any compensation he wins for his ordeal.
Andrew Malkinson, who is currently living on benefits, said he was “enraged” by the idea that he would essentially have to pay money for the “torture” he endured for almost two decades.
The 57-year-old was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of seven years after being found guilty of an attack on a woman in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 2003.
He continuously maintained his innocence and was finally declared a free man after his conviction was overturned by appeal court judges on Wednesday.
While Mr Malkinson would not have to reimburse the prison service directly if he wins compensation, he could be forced to sacrifice a chunk of any payment he does receive to account for costs he would have incurred on the outside had he not been imprisoned.
Sir Bob Neill, the justice committee chairman, said the Government should review the rules. The controversial guidance was confirmed by the House of Lords in 2007, when it was the UK’s highest court.
While the Government makes the call on whether to grant compensation, it is then up to an independent assessor to determine how much is awarded, including any deductions for living costs.
‘Are you serious?’
Speaking outside the High Court on Wednesday, Mr Malkinson said he had been “kidnapped” by the state and and called Greater Manchester Police “liars”.
Speaking to The Telegraph, he said he was “sickened” by the idea he would have to pay for his “kidnapping”.
“The idea of having to pay my torturers, when I heard about it, it just enraged me beyond… I almost couldn’t cope with it, the idea. I thought that’s so sick,” he said. “Proven innocents have to pay for their torture? What the hell? Are you serious?”
Sir Bob said the rules governing deductions needed to be reviewed, adding: “I think people will think back and say, ‘ok, is it really fair’?
“You can make a case about safeguarding taxpayers’ money, I understand that. But then you have to put the other side of the coin, well hang on, it was because of the state’s activity that this person was wrongly convicted, wrongly imprisoned as it turns out, should they actually then be having a deduction made from that?”
The Ministry of Justice is not currently believed to be planning to change the rules.
It said deductions from compensation were sometimes made when there had been “substantial savings” made on living costs while a person was in custody.
At the time of Mr Malkinson’s trial, there was no DNA evidence linking him to the crime, and the prosecution case against him was based only on identification evidence.
But a DNA sample, held by the forensic archive, was tested last October and found to link to another man, who has since been arrested. A decision on whether he will be charged is currently being awaited.