Andrew Malkinson: Unfair for wrongfully convicted inmates to pay back prison board and lodging costs, Rishi Sunak says

Rishi Sunak believes it is unfair that wrongly convicted prisoners should have to pay back living costs for their time in jail, Downing Street has said.

It comes amid concerns a man who spent 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit faces deductions from any compensation for his board and lodging while behind bars.

Andrew Malkinson was wrongly found guilty of raping a woman in Greater Manchester in 2003 and the next year was jailed for life with a minimum of seven years.

The 57-year-old served 10 more years because he maintained his innocence.

His conviction was quashed by senior judges at the Court of Appeal last week after DNA evidence linking another man to the crime came to light.

Asked about concerns the living costs could be deducted from any compensation Mr Malkinson receives, the prime minister’s press secretary said there is an independent board that reviews and then makes the decision.

“In principle, for someone who is wrongly convicted, I don’t think the prime minister thinks it would be fair for them to have to repay costs, particularly as they have wrongfully been kept in prison for something that they didn’t do,” she said.

The current rules can be traced back to a 2007 ruling by the House of Lords at a time when it was the country’s highest court.

Mr Sunak “has been speaking with the Home Office and others in government to establish the facts and to make sure the approach is right and fair,” his press secretary added.

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‘I was kidnapped by the state’

Malkinson fears paying for prison board and lodging

Mr Malkinson has said he feels “sickened” by the idea of having to pay for prison “board and lodging” should he receive compensation.

He was released from jail in December 2020 but was under close watch by police and his name was on the sex offenders register.

He has described his current financial hardship, revealing he was “living on benefits” and criticising the current route to compensation.

“I feel very strongly about this. Somehow the prison service has lobbied the government in the early 2000s,” he told the BBC.

“The result is that even if you fight tooth and nail and gain compensation you then have to pay the prison service a large chunk of that for so-called ‘board and lodgings’, which is so abhorrent to me.

“I am sickened by it.”

Andrew Malkinson, who served 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, reads a statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, after being cleared by the Court of Appeal. Picture date: Wednesday July 26, 2023.

Compensation considered on case-by-case basis

Although Mr Malkinson has had all charges against him dropped, he still has not received a declaration of innocence from the Court of Appeal – without which he cannot claim compensation.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) told Sky News compensation for miscarriage of justice cases is assessed on a case-by-case basis by a MoJ caseworker. If compensation is to be awarded the amount is determined by an independent assessor, Dame Linda Dobbs.

The eligibility is determined by the secretary of state only once an application has been submitted.

The MoJ said the assessor could “consider deductions from the total compensation to reflect the particular circumstances of an individual case” including any “substantial savings likely to have been made on the basis of living costs not incurred while in custody” – for example a prisoner not having to pay rent on outside accommodation.

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