Criminal Cases Review Commission
Specifics of upcoming independent review into CCRC investigations
A leading King’s Counsel will conduct the review into three Criminal Cases Review Commission investigations into Andrew Malkinson’s rape conviction, the Terms of Reference published yesterday have confirmed.
The CCRC twice declined Mr Malkinson’s applications before referring a third application in January 2023. His conviction was subsequently overturned by the Court of Appeal in July 2023.
Independent King’s Counsel (KC) Chris Henley will have sole responsibility for the review’s findings and recommendations. Mr Henley is Head of Chambers at Mountford Chambers and a former chair of the Criminal Bar Association, and has a wide range of relevant experience in the most serious criminal cases.
He will have full access to the CCRC’s records on each of the investigations, and to assist Mr Henley the CCRC will request additional material from the courts, police, Crown Prosecution Service and forensic scientists.
All CCRC Commissioners and staff involved in the reviews who are still in post will be available to contribute to the review.
The Criminal Appeal Act 1995 puts constraints on public comment the CCRC can make about its own investigative work – but the review’s findings will be made public within legislative constraints after it culminates before the end of October 2023.
Helen Pitcher OBE, Chairman of the CCRC, yesterday said:
“Last week we announced the review would be taking place, and in the interests of openness and transparency we have today announced that it will be led by Chris Henley KC and published the Terms of Reference to our website.
“We recognise that Mr Malkinson had a very long journey to clear his name, and it is plainly wrong that he spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
“We reflect on all referrals to learn lessons that will help future investigations, and due to the nature of this case it is right that it is led by an independent KC and that the findings of this review are made public.
“Having considered the judgment we began work on the Terms of Reference and identifying a senior and respected KC in the criminal justice system to lead on this.”
The KC has full autonomy on the review and will be assisted in any way that could be helpful by CCRC staff and Independent Non-Executive Directors.
The CCRC has already been in touch with Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service to offer its assistance in any of their enquiries.
Notes to Editors
- The CCRC considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.
- In the last three reporting years (1 April 2020 to 31 March 2023), there have been 105 convictions or sentences overturned by the courts after being referred by the CCRC.
- In the last reporting year (1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023), 1,424 people applied for the CCRC to review their case. In the previous year, 1,198 people applied to the CCRC.
- The CCRC is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is funded by the Ministry of Justice.
- There are currently 11 Commissioners who bring to the CCRC considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.
- The CCRC has three independent Non-Executive Directors. They are not CCRC employees but sit on the Board to provide independent advice, constructive challenge and scrutiny of decisions and performance.
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