In 2007, police and prosecutors reportedly knew that another man’s DNA was on the clothes of the woman who wrongly jailed Andrew Malkinson for rape. Nevertheless, he remained behind bars for another 13 years.
Mr Malkinson’s conviction, who served 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, was overturned last month after DNA was presented linking another man to the crime.
Files obtained by the 57-year-old during his fight for his release show officials and prosecutors knew that forensic testing in 2007 had identified a searchable male DNA profile on the rape victim’s vest top that did not match his own , reported The Guardian.
They decided not to take any further action and there is no record of reporting this to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the body responsible for investigating possible miscarriages of justice, the report said.
The CPS said Mr Malkinson’s lawyers had been briefed on the new DNA evidence.
The CCRC refused in 2012 to order further forensic examinations or refer the case to appeal, and the case files reportedly indicate that it was concerned about costs.
Malkinson was wrongly convicted of raping a woman in Greater Manchester in 2003 and was sentenced the following year to life in prison with a minimum sentence of seven years, but served an additional 10 years for pleading innocent.
According to the report, records of a meeting between the Forensic Science Service, the CPS and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in December 2009 indicate that the CPS understood the potential significance of the 2007 DNA find.
The CPS guidance states that “the CCRC must be informed as soon as possible of any case where there are doubts about the certainty of the conviction”.
An internal transcript of Mr Malkinson’s first application to the CCRC in 2009 – in which he intended to appeal his conviction – reportedly shows that the CCRC highlighted the cost of further testing and said it was unlikely to overturn his conviction would lead.
Mr Malkinson’s solicitor, Emily Bolton, director of the charity Appeal, said: “The documents are a shocking chronicle of how Andy was utterly abandoned by the corpse which should have ended his nightmare of being wrongfully convicted, but did instead acted as an obstacle to justice.” .
“An overhaul of the CCRC is needed to prevent it from failing other innocent prisoners.”
James Burley, Investigator at Appeal, said: “These records prove that the CCRC’s handling of Andy’s case was deeply flawed and a total mess.
“By not bothering to obtain the police files, the CCRC was unable to uncover evidence that would have allowed Andy’s name to be cleared a decade earlier.”
He added: “The CCRC’s internal comments show that cost was a primary consideration in the decision not to commission DNA testing. This decision may have saved the CCRC some money, but it came at a brutal cost for both Andy and the victim.
“The CCRC gave the wrong impression that they couldn’t have made a DNA breakthrough sooner.
“These records show that’s nonsense, and I don’t think they would have commissioned any DNA testing in this case at all if APPEAL hadn’t first obtained new DNA test results themselves.”
Mr Malkinson said: “If the CCRC had investigated properly, it would have saved me years in prison for a crime I did not commit.
“I think an apology is the least I owe, but it seems like the very body put in place to address the fallibility of the system suffers from the illusion that it is itself infallible. How many more people have failed?”
CCRC, GMP and the CPS were contacted by the PA news agency for comment.
A CPS spokesman told The Guardian: “It is clear that Mr Malkinson was wrongly convicted of this crime and we share our deep regret that this happened.”
“The reference to a new DNA profile found on the victim’s clothing in 2007 was not ignored. It has been submitted to the defense team representing Mr Malkinson for consideration.
“In addition, searches of DNA databases were conducted to identify other possible suspects. At this point there was no match and therefore no further investigation could be carried out.”
The CCRC told the newspaper: “As we have said, it is simply wrong that a man spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.”