Patel calls for review of costs for innocent ex-prisoners
DAME PRITI PATEL has called for a rethink of “utterly shameful” rules that mean innocent prisoners can be forced to pay for food and accommodation out of their compensation for being unjustly jailed.
The former home secretary became the most senior Tory figure yet to call for the system to be reviewed after the “terrible injustice” suffered by Andrew Malkinson, who served 17 years in jail for a crime he did not commit.
She said the 57-year-old now “needs to be supported as he rebuilds his life”.
It comes after Michael O’Brien, who was wrongly jailed for the murder of a Cardiff newsagent, had his £600,000 compensation payment slashed by a quarter to account for the amount he saved on living costs while behind bars.
Mr Malkinson 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 continually maintained his innocence and was finally declared a free man after his conviction was overturned by Appeal Court judges earlier this week.
While he will not have to reimburse the prison service directly if he wins compensation, his payment could be docked to account for costs that he would have incurred had he not been locked up, such as food and accommodation expenses.
Dame Priti said: “This is utterly shameful following the injustice he has suffered. This entire case has raised very serious questions about how this terrible injustice has happened … it is clear that a review of these rules must take place.
“No one can imagine the injustice Mr Malkinson has suffered and now he needs to be supported as he rebuilds his life.”
Meanwhile, Dominic Grieve, a former attorney general, has called for the “insulting” rules to be scrapped.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “It’s an extremely dubious procedure.”
Sir Bob Neill, Parliament’s justice committee chairman, has also said the Government should review the rules.
Article by Amy Gibbons in The Daily Telegraph, 29th July 2023