Chalk scraps outrageous Labour guidance requiring wrongfully convicted prisoners to repay prison board and lodging costs
Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk has scrapped, with immediate effect, guidance introduced in 2006 when Labour's Tony Blair was prime minister under which wrongfully convicted prisoners could have part of their compensation payment withheld as a contribution to board and lodging costs.
This decision following the justified outrage over the case of Andrew Malkinson. One of Britain’s longest-serving victims of a miscarriage of justice, Malkinson, 57, had his conviction overturned in July 2023 by the court of appeal after spending 17 years in prison for a rape which DNA evidence has now shown was likely to have been committed by someone else. Malkinson was then told that, under the 2006 guidance, he might have to pay back living costs for his time in jail and that there would be a deduction from any compensation for his board and lodging while behind bars.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak responded to the mounting uproar by intervening to ask Home Office officials to “establish the facts” about the case.
“In principle, for someone who has been wrongfully convicted, it doesn’t seem fair that they would have to repay or reimburse costs,” the prime minister’s press secretary stated.
Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk announced at the weekend that the guidance under which this could happen would be scrapped with immediate effect. He described this reform as "Common sense." (See also today's second quote of the day.)
The scrapped guidance concerning the miscarriage of justice compensation scheme – which is designed to help individuals restart and rebuild their lives – was added in 2006.
The maximum amount of compensation payable under the miscarriage of justice system is £1m for 10 or more years’ imprisonment, or £500,000 for up to 10 years.
Thank goodness that common sense has finally prevailed: I find it astonishing that this absurd and unjust guidance could ever have been issued, even under Tony Blair. Scrapping this rule was long overdue and I am pleased it has finally been done.