The body responsible for investigating potential miscarriages of justice in England will review its role in the case of a man who spent 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit.
Andrew Malkinson, 57, had his 2003 conviction for the attack in Greater Manchester quashed by the Court of Appeal last month after DNA potentially linking another man to the crime was identified.
He had twice applied for his case to be referred for appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) but was turned down.
He was eventually released from prison in December 2020.
The CCRC announced on Thursday that a leading barrister, with extensive experience prosecuting and defending cases, would lead a review of its role in the case.
It will focus on the CCRC’s decisions and actions relating to Mr Malkinson’s two applications to the body.
The announcement comes after CCRC chairman Helen Pitcher met Justice Secretary Alex Chalk on Wednesday and discussed the issues in the case.
After Mr Malkinson’s release, advances in scientific techniques allowed his legal team to provide new DNA analysis that cast doubt on his conviction to the CCRC, which then commissioned its own testing.
A new suspect was identified in 2022, whose DNA had been on the national database since 2012.
Case files obtained by Mr Malkinson as he battled to be freed show that police and prosecutors knew forensic testing in 2007 had identified a searchable male DNA profile on the rape victim’s vest top that did not match his own.
No match was found on the police database at the time and no further action was taken.
There is no record that they told the CCRC, the body responsible for investigating possible miscarriages of justice, although the Crown Prosecution Service said Mr Malkinson’s lawyers were told.
Notes of a meeting between the Forensic Science Service, the CPS and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in December 2009 included a note that the DNA had been found in an area of the victim’s vest top that was “crime specific”.
Mr Malkinson applied to the CCRC for a review of his case that year, but when the review concluded in 2012 the commission refused to order further forensic testing or refer the case for appeal.
CCRC documents relating to the case between 2009 and 2012 suggest there were concerns about costs.
A CCRC spokesperson said: “A review into the decisions taken in Mr Malkinson’s case couldn’t be started until we had the judgment from the Court of Appeal, but we have long recognised that it would be important to have one.
“We will be as open as we can be within our statutory constraints with the findings of the completed review and the lessons to be learned.
“This is a complex case in which many elements have informed the decisions taken.
“We recognise that Mr Malkinson has 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 have already been in touch with Greater Manchester Police and with the Crown Prosecution Service to offer our assistance in any of their enquiries.”
On Wednesday two senior government law officers – former solicitor general Lord Edward Garnier KC and former Justice Secretary Sir Robert Buckland – called for a public inquiry into the way the case was handled.