The court of appeal has today given the green light for a critical test case by a man who spent 17 years in prison before having his conviction for attempted rape overturned on DNA evidence to continue his fight for compensation against Chris Grayling.
Victor Nealon, whose case has featured numerous time on www.thejusticegap.com, was convicted of attempted rape in 1997 outside a nightclub in Redditch. The evidence used to secure his conviction was a disputed ID parade and a weakened alibi. His conviction was quashed in December 2013 after a DNA test pointed to another man as the perpetrator. The former postman has always said he was innocent and always called for a DNA test which he believed would clear his name; however that test was only undertaken on the third review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The watchdog looked at the Nealon case in 1998 and 2001 before the final review leading to the overturning of his conviction.
Not only was Victor Nealon refused permission to judicially review the decision of Chris Grayling to turn down his application for compensation; but, as reported on www.thejusticegap.com (here), the Ministry of Justice is now pursuing Nealon who was released with just £43 and a return ticket to Shrewsbury for £2,500 legal costs.
‘It is one thing to lose your freedom, family, friends, job and money; but it’s quite another thing to be told in prison that, unless you confess to the crime, you’ll never ever be released. I was told I had no prospect for release. I continued to maintain my innocence for 17 years.’
Victor Nealon, full interview HERE
Today the Court of Appeal has quashed that previous decision refusing a JR. Victor Nealon now has been given permission to judicially review the Ministry of Justice’s refusal.
The case of Victor Nealon and Sam Hallam will now be heard later in the year.
‘This is clearly the right decision,’ comments Mark Newby. ‘No right thinking member of the public would consider that someone in Victor’s position should not be compensated. This will be a critical test case against an outrageously illiberal piece of legislation which is not only devoid of compassion but turns legal principle on its head.’
Victor Nealon’s challenge is seen as a test case for the new, much restricted regime to compensate the victims of miscarriages introduced under this year’s Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. That legislation further restricted eligibility for compensation to only those who can demonstrate their innocence ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. You can read more about that here. Mark Newby continues: ‘No one would suggest that everyone who has their conviction quashed should be entitled to compensation – and nor was that the position under the old law. These cases are not convictions being overturned on technicalities but there is newly discovered evidence which plainly points to innocence.’
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award