Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk has today (24 August) ordered an independent inquiry into the circumstances and handling of Andrew Malkinson’s case after his conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal earlier this month.
The inquiry will investigate the handling and the role of Greater Manchester Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) played in his conviction and subsequent appeals to ensure lessons are learned from the significant miscarriage of justice he has suffered. The CCRC very much welcome this inquiry.
Earlier this month, the CCRC had already committed to an additional review carried out by an independent KC specifically into the organisation’s handling of Mr Malkinson’s applications.
Helen Pitcher OBE, Chairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, said:
“To understand what went wrong in this appalling miscarriage of justice, every organisation involved in handling the case has to fully embrace this whole-system review quite rightly commissioned by the Lord Chancellor.
“We must all contribute fully and engage promptly – and with a commitment to implement any recommendations it draws.
“This cross-organisational review will complement the additional review being led by Chris Henley KC specifically into the CCRC’s handling of Andrew Malkinson’s applications. We always learn lessons from investigations to help with our future work, and due to the nature of this case it’s right that such an exercise is carried out by an independent KC alongside this broader review.”
The CCRC board is made up largely of non-executive officials who provide rigorous scrutiny and oversight of the organisation.
This includes individuals – including the Chairman – who are not involved in casework carried out by its team of UK-wide investigators or referrals decided on by its independent commissioners.
Notes to editors – information about the CCRC
The CCRC has repeatedly confirmed its full intention to speak as much as it can about these investigations once the CCRC is in a position where the work can be discussed.
A leading KC is carrying out a thorough and independent review of many thousands of pages of CCRC casework over three separate investigations into Andrew Malkinson’s case.
In a commitment to openness and transparency, the CCRC have published the Terms of Reference on our website. However, at this time the CCRC cannot make comment or act in any way that might prejudice this independent review.
The CCRC is also bound by legal limitation of what can be shared publicly from its case reviews by Section 23 of the Criminal Appeal Act. At the end of every CCRC review, a Statement of Reasons is shared with an applicant or representative outlining the work that the CCRC carried out. While the CCRC is not able to release this, the applicant or representative can share this publicly.
The Board is made up of the Senior Leadership Team, three Commissioners and three Non-Executive Directors, and our Chairman. Day-to-day operations are the responsibility of the Senior Leadership Team.
Decisions about whether or not cases can be referred are always taken by one or more of our Commissioners, who were appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Prime Minister for their professional experience and ability to make important decisions in complicated matters.
Having an investigatory chair could impact on the role’s ability to scrutinise and provide oversight from an unprejudiced perspective. There would be a clear conflict of interests to having an investigatory chair in the role that could impinge on the organisation’s casework.
Chairman Helen Pitcher OBE is contracted to 10 days per month with the CCRC – though in the last financial year, Helen worked for almost 40% more than the number of days she is contracted to work.
It is well known that Mrs Pitcher also serves as the chairman of the Judicial Appointments Committee (JAC). The independent Justice Select Committee endorsed Helen Pitcher’s appointment to the JAC after scrutinising her on carrying out both roles. The other roles that Mrs Pitcher holds require a combined average of five hours per month.
In the last three years, more than 100 unjust convictions or sentences have been overturned following CCRC referrals.
The organisation has an annual budget of around £8 million and receives around 1,400 applications per year for its Case Review Managers to carry out thorough investigations into often complex cases.
In the last year, 1,424 people applied for the CCRC to review their case and 1,275 cases were completed. In the previous year, 1,198 people applied and 1,183 cases were completed. Indications are that applications are currently set to be 30% higher in the current financial year.
In the last reporting year (1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023), 83.7% of cases were completed within 12 months of application being received by the CCRC. In that period, 1,275 case reviews were completed. In the previous year, 1,183 case reviews were completed.
The CCRC has repeatedly asked for more funding, and questions on this matter have been raised in the House of Commons and House of Lords.
The organisation has been clear that it would welcome a full funding review to determine if adequate resources are being given to a service that is invaluable to a growing number of people in desperate need of help.
While the CCRC’s small budget did receive a 15% increase this year, in recent months the organisation has seen an almost 30% increase in applicants. Last year, 1,424 people applied for a review from the CCRC’s 30 case review managers.
Despite the strains that undoubtedly puts on our small team, in the last three years, more than 100 people’s convictions or sentences were quashed by the courts following referrals from the CCRC.