‘I was jailed for a rape I didn’t commit – now I’m too scared to hug a woman’

Andrew Malkinson cleared of rape conviction by appeal court

Andy Malkinson – who was jailed for 17 years for a rape he did not commit – has said his appalling ordeal has left him too frightened even to hug a woman.

And he also said not even £1million – the maximum amount of compensation permissible – would cover what he said as the “living hell” of his incarceration.

The 57-year-old was speaking after Justice Secretary Alex Chalk KC confirmed wrongly convicted people will no longer face paying living costs covering their time behind bars deducted from compensation payments.

And Mr Malkinson has shared harrowing insights about life on the inside after being released last week, with appeal judges having quashed his conviction in response to DNA evidence linking another man to the crime.

Mr Malkinson was wrongly convicted in 2004 of raping a woman in Salford, Manchester, and served a total of 17 years, four months and 16 days behind bars before he was eventually released in 2020.

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He spent double the time he needed to in jail because he refused to admit to having committed to a crime of which he was innocent.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Mr Malkinson admitted the the initial realisation that he could be charged for his bed and board had left him “apoplectic” – added: “I don’t think even the Chinese do that to their prisoners.

“I remember thinking I’d like to sit down with the architects of that rule and say, ‘You are not chimpanzees. You are human beings. Can you not see this is morally, ethically, wrong?’

“It cemented something for me – a complete ignorance of the pain they have caused. The lack of empathy.

“For all those years that was something they accused me of. Because I would not accept guilt I was told ‘you have no empathy’, ’You must be a psychopath’.

“All those things they threw at me – and they were guilty of them.”

The ordeal had left him with grave doubts about ever being in a relationship again, or even hugging a woman.

He said: “I’ve had this weird thing of being observed, feeling under surveillance, but I can’t never speak to a woman again. That would be absurd.

“I don’t know if I’m too damaged, because I am damaged. It would be nice to think that I could, but I can’t see it yet.”

Mr Malkinson has also called for wider reforms, voicing concerns about the police’s handling of evidence and the ability of juries to convict on a 10-2 majority.

Speaking at the capping of compensation at ten years – amounting to £1million – he added: “It’s pretty lamentable. £1million sounds like a lot of money, but that represents nearly two decades of living hell and lost opportunities and lost love and everything else that makes life precious.

“It’s capped at ten years, but what happens to people like me who’ve spent much longer than ten years (in prison), almost double? It seems very unfair.

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“I don’t think any amount would be enough, but it should be significantly higher than it is.”

“It says a lot about our justice system that this perverse rule was introduced in the first place,” he told the Daily Mail.

“I hope the minister will now meet with me to discuss the many other reforms needed to stop others having to fight for 20 years to get justice.”

Downing Street last week indicated Prime Minister Rishi Sunak thought the deductions were unfair amid calls to drop the charges.

Mr Chalk has now updated the guidance dating back to 2006 to remove them from future payments made under the miscarriage of justice compensation scheme.

He said: “Fairness is a core pillar of our justice system and it is not right that victims of devastating miscarriages of justice can have deductions made for saved living expenses.

“This common sense change will ensure victims do not face paying twice for crimes they did not commit.”

Tory MP Sir Bob Neill, who chairs the Commons Justice Committee, said he was “delighted” Mr Chalk has “moved so swiftly on this”, while suggesting the Government should consider making payments to miscarriage of justice victims who have already had their compensation docked.

He added: “Big credit to Andrew Malkinson, his family and supporters.

“I wonder if the Government could consider ex-gratia payments on a case-by-case basis to make up for that if people can demonstrate they fulfil all the criteria.”

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